What Car Thieves Think of the Club

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What Car Thieves Think of the Club

Postby DrakeS » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:00 am

June 8, 2010, 1:55 pm
What Car Thieves Think of the Club
By STEPHEN J. DUBNER

In the SuperFreakonomics chapter on global warming, we describe pollution as a negative externality, a cost that is generally borne by someone other than the party producing the waste. In so doing, we discuss the difference between two anti-theft devices for cars, the Club and LoJack. Because LoJack is a hidden device and thieves cannot therefore know which cars have it and which don’t, it cuts down on overall theft. Which means it produces the rare positive externality. The Club, meanwhile, works in the opposite manner:

The Club is big and highly visible (it even comes in neon pink). By using a Club, you are explicitly telling a potential thief that your car will be hard to steal. The implicit signal, meanwhile, is that your neighbor’s car — the one without a Club — is a much better target. So your Club produces a negative externality for your non-Club-using neighbor in the form of a higher risk that his car will be stolen. The Club is a perfect exercise in self-interest.

Having read this passage, a man named Jim Burns wrote in with an interesting background story:

Back in the ’90s, I was working as a design engineer for Chrysler. I had responsibility for key cylinders and door latches. At that time auto theft rates in Europe were increasing and driving the insurers to put pressure on the Euro governments to require increased theft deterrence devices on all new cars. As part of our attempt to figure out where best to invest our design dollars, we hired some professional car thieves to provide a more hands-on perspective than us engineers had (well, maybe not all of us).

At some point, the Club was mentioned. The professional thieves laughed and exchanged knowing glances. What we knew was that the Club is a hardened steel device that attaches to the steering wheel and the brake pedal to prevent steering and/or braking. What we found out was that a pro thief would carry a short piece of a hacksaw blade to cut through the plastic steering wheel in a couple seconds. They were then able to release The Club and use it to apply a huge amount of torque to the steering wheel and break the lock on the steering column (which most cars were already equipped with). The pro thieves actually sought out cars with The Club on them because they didn’t want to carry a long pry bar that was too hard to conceal.

Ah, the beauty of unintended consequences. And do not pass too quickly over the fact that a car company hires car thieves for consultation. If you are a businessperson, do you regularly engage those who wish to do you harm? If you are an intellectual, do you regularly sit down with those who wish to call you names?
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Re: What Car Thieves Think of the Club

Postby Kurt » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:29 am

DrakeS wrote:Ah, the beauty of unintended consequences. And do not pass too quickly over the fact that a car company hires car thieves for consultation. If you are a businessperson, do you regularly engage those who wish to do you harm? If you are an intellectual, do you regularly sit down with those who wish to call you names?


Yep, I have. Mostly with computer security and I do not find the hiring of "hackers" to be an appealing option for the reason that they tend to want to use the situation to their own advantage. They like to "rub it in" that they, not you, are the experts but they never explain why it is me that is talking to them , all knowing who they are and everything about them. Usually they point out a few things that I missed, but the fact is that I did not miss them.

These car thieves did the same thing, they revealed the club to be useless and even desireable in car theft but did not tackle the larger problem of why they were in the office telling him that in the first place.

Talking to people like that is really only useful for damage mitigation and not prevention, but you can get that information for free by a combination of insults and flattery.
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Re: What Car Thieves Think of the Club

Postby DrakeS » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:13 am

"STEPHEN J. DUBNER wrote If you are a businessperson, do you regularly engage those who wish to do you harm? If you are an intellectual, do you regularly sit down with those who wish to call you names?

In such cases, I think its more of case of helping your enemy help get you by, and being polite about letting him know that hes being used beforehand and what for.....for the money, for the money...if you were loving him/her (i.e. love your enemy as your self) ...you probably wouldnt be talking ...about the money, about the money, always about the money, nothing else:).

This is why I find I have to censure my thoughts when I see someone I think might have things for show but has no way to show its from honest gain: because they tear up that line inside me between jealousy and,... just honestly liking what you see and wanting the same things for your self. In other words though, just cause I'm jealous of some guys car, I am not about to steal it or its hubs.

.......really good comments added on at the end of the story located here:
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2 ... -the-club/
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Re: What Car Thieves Think of the Club

Postby JamesInTheWorld » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:49 am

The Freakonomics books are a great read


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Re: What Car Thieves Think of the Club

Postby Caliban » Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:17 pm

I have always found curious the ingenuity of car theives to overcome every, and I do mean every anti theft device car companies come up with. If there is a way to make it safe someone will find a way to overcome that. If that ingenuity was put into design or entreprenuerialism of any kind they could easily be multi-millionaires. But no.They steal cars
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