Ignition Interlock Camera Snaps Photo of Car Thief. Whoops. 

ignition interlock camera nabs car thiefA man in Renton, Washington had his stolen car recovered not long ago. That’s good news, but he got even better news when the data from his ignition interlock went to the authorities. They found nice, clear photos of the car thief.

You see, because the owner had gotten a DUI, he was required to install an ignition interlock in his Acura. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Quite often, an ignition interlock is enough to deter a thief. They’re not hard to use, but you do need to take a few minutes to get acquainted with one.

This thief, however, must have known how to use the interlock already – maybe he’d gotten a DUI himself in the past – and after passing the breath test, he drove the car away.

Police eventually recovered the car, and  they checked the interlock data.

Apparently, the thief forgot two things:

  1. That ignition interlocks keep a record of data about the operation of the vehicle, and
  2. That Washington is among the states that require cameras along with ignition interlocks

That’s right. When you have an ignition interlock installed in Washington, a digital camera is also installed, to ensure that the person who takes the test is, in fact, the driver and not someone else. That camera snapped photos of the thief every time he started the car.

As it happened, the thief in question was well known to local police, and they were able to issue a warrant on him. No doubt by the time you read this he’s back in the system.

We don’t market ignition interlocks as anti-theft devices, as thief-identification systems, or as stolen car recovery solutions. But when it works out that way, why not take the credit?

To the auto theft division of the Renton, Washington police: you’re welcome.