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Big Brother? OnStar Shuts Down Stolen Car During Police Chase


“I walked into the gas station, and as I’m walking in, he’s walking out, and he goes, ‘Nice Camaro.'"

Two police departments, a helicopter and dozens of cruisers were hot on the trail of a stolen Chevy Camaro speeding through Illinois. But it wasn't their efforts that ultimately stopped the renegade vehicle. It was OnStar.

The General Motors' subscription-based service, which is often used to alert first responders to accidents or even let family members see where the car is driving, has the ability to shut down OnStar-enabled vehicles. This is just what was done to Brandon Holme's car that was stolen from a West Dundee gas station and taken on a 40-mile, high-speed chase, according to Chicago's CBS Local.

(Related: OnStar Users Could Earn $600 Per Month by Voluntarily Renting Out Their Cars -- Will You?)

Here's how it all went down:

“I walked into the gas station, and as I’m walking in, he’s walking out, and he goes, ‘Nice Camaro,’” Holme said. “The guy said ‘Nice Camaro.’ He jumped in my car and took it.”

Holme called police, then called OnStar to report the car had been stolen. Police, working with OnStar, trailed the Camaro to Chicago.

“They told me they could not use OnStar until the cop was behind him. They can’t just shut it off when it’s anywhere,” Holme said.

Watch the report:

At a certain point, OnStar was given the green light to shut off the car. The vehicle crashed into bushes after the gas pedal became inoperable. The man who stole the car, 20-year-old Andre Hill, was not injured in the crash and is currently in jail on $30,000 bail.

Holme credits OnStar for the reason he still has his vehicle -- however banged up -- today. Still, it is this very technology that has had others worried. Although OnStar is an optional service drivers must subscribe to, it was revealed last year that OnStar was tracking customers even after they had canceled subscriptions to the service. The Blaze reported at the time that Glenn Beck had even voiced his concerns about OnStar's pervasive tracking capability a couple years before even this information came to light. But in September 2011, it was revealed OnStar was still collecting data on disabled vehicles. GM soon thereafter stopped this practice saying it would only maintain data tracking on customers after cancellation should they "opt-in."

The Blaze has also reported on OnStar's video chat technology and its patent for "Minority-Report"-style billboards that would be tailored to drivers based who it sensed was in the car and where it was traveling.

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