Marc Rooding, Dutch owner of a F30 BMW 320i, awoke just before 4 a.m. a week ago to the local police knocking on his door, who explained to him they had been alerted by a car security call center that somebody had smashed the passenger-side window on his car. And it only got weirder from there.
On first impression, it all looked like a straightforward burglary attempt, Marc said in a post describing the incident on his personal blog which you can read here. The window was smashed but nothing was taken from the car. It wasn’t until Marc turned the car on to go get the window replaced that he realized there was a lot more damage.
From his post:
When it was time to head out to Car Glass, I switched on the ignition and faced a severe error and a warning on the BMW iDrive interface. The severe error stated that there was an issue with the passenger’s side seatbelt. The warning stated that the SOS button on the ceiling wasn’t in contact with BMW anymore.
The window was replaced within 30 minutes and I hoped that maybe after replacing the window, the warning and error notifications would also disappear. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I decided to call the local BMW dealer. They advised me to drop by in the afternoon so that they could take a look at it.
After taking the car to the BMW dealer, one of the employees noticed that the A-pillar lining had been pulled back, and upon further inspection, the wiring loom behind the panel had been cut. After a quick check, Marc realized his alarm could no longer be triggered, as the sensors to detect break-ins were no longer working, and the dealership suggested he shouldn’t take the car home, as the thieves could return to take the car.
We looked at each other, less puzzled than before. It was crystal clear that these burglars were not ignorant. They knew exactly what they were doing. Their grand scheme was to make it look like a simple break-in without theft, while cleverly disabling the internal alarm systems, and covering their tracks as best as possible.
Most likely, if I parked the car in front of our house the next night, they would break in again, without triggering an alarm. That would give them more than enough time to bypass the ignition interlock and steal the car entirely.
Marc believes that the call center was notified when the wire was cut, as it made it so that the SOS button inside the car no longer worked. A BMW service employee contacted the Dutch BMW damage repair center, who had not previously heard of a theft scheme like this. It’s also possible similar techniques have been used in the past without anybody realizing it or, without it being reported the same way.
Marc shared his story hoping to alert others that this could happen, so if you find yourself the victim of what appears to be an unassuming smash and grab break in, but your car is acting weird, definitely take it to a dealer and have it checked out.
For more details, be sure to check out Marc’s full story. Jalopnik reached out to BMW for any more details or information and will update if we hear back.