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Stealing Cars Chapter 6 (Heard)

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Chapter 6 of this interdisciplinary study examines car theft in recent years as portrayed in film, literature, and gaming, as well as new technology used to both prevent and enable theft.

  • Heitmann discusses the movie Gran Torino in which the transfer of car ownership from one individual to another is seen as a rite of passage and maturity to manhood.
  • As antitheft technology advances, theft rarely manifests itself in the joyrider.  Theft is now primarily conducted by the professional who seeks monetary gain from stealing a disassembling the vehicle.
    • With information easily accessible on the internet and advances in technology, car thieves are able to work around some security measures.
  • Heitmann cites a few other films and a novel, all of which seem to trivialize the real gravity and implications of car theft.
  • A large focus of this chapter is the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto.  As the name suggests, car theft is the central theme of the game, with all sorts of other crimes including murder, drug use, prostitution, etc. involved.
    • Apprehended car thieves have admitted that they were inspired to commit theft by GTA.  Some professionals believe many gamers are not able to distinguish the game from reality, and that the lack of consequences in the game lead them to not consider the consequences in real life.
  • Use of Radio Frequency Identification key codes to steal cars without ever having to get in the car.  Braking and accelerating functions of a car can be controlled from the outside in a number of ways.

Discussion Questions:

  • How have antitheft and pro-theft technologies co-evolved in recent years?
  • What conclusion can we draw on human nature that the trivialization of car theft in modern media adversely affects peoples’ decision making faculties?