OnStar stops truck that was carjacked at gunpoint


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An OnStar device like this one saved Jose Ruiz’s Chevy Tahoe. Credit: OnStar by GM

Dumb: Stealing a car equipped with OnStar. Dumber: After OnStar halts the stolen vehicle, falling into a pool while running away from the police.


A man with a sawed-off shotgun carjacked a Chevrolet Tahoe from a parking lot in Visalia on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The owner of the vehicle, Jose Ruiz, 33, was reportedly sitting in his truck with a passenger when the gunman ordered them to get out and empty their pockets. The passenger initially refused, but Ruiz, knowing that the OnStar system would disable the vehicle, persuaded him to obey, and the thief drove off.

Police soon spotted the stolen truck. As they started to pursue it, though, it sped away.

But the Tahoe had General Motors’ OnStar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown feature, which enables OnStar operators to pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then remotely signal the vehicle to disable the gas pedal.

When the truck unexpectedly stopped, the driver bolted. Police told reporters that he fell into a swimming pool and was quickly caught.

This was the first time OnStar quelled a high-speed chase since the slowdown enhancement was introduced in the 2009 model year. OnStar, an option on all GM vehicles, is typically used for emergency services, vehicle diagnostics and directions.


OnStar president Walt Dorfstatter told reporters that the car was stopped 16 minutes after OnStar was notified.

‘He wouldn’t have pulled over if OnStar hadn’t have shut the vehicle down,’ Visalia Police Sgt. Steve Phillips told reporters. ‘Generally pursuits end in a collision.’

-- Melissa Rohlin