Hero Hacker Helps Stranded Family After Losing One-Of-A-Kind Car Key

For John and Maria Higgins, a simple loss of keys was about to become an adventure involving tow trucks, mechanics, locksmiths, crows (yes crows) and eventually a hero hacker.

When the Higgins family bought their used Toyota Estima minivan, they only received one set of keys instead of the usual two or even three. Unbeknownst to the family, they had purchased a vehicle with a one-of-a-kind key that could not be duplicated.

“This vehicle is a Japanese import with a sophisticated immobilizer, and the key has a chip in it that can’t be duplicated by North American Toyota dealers. I bought the vehicle a month ago from a dealer on the mainland who led me to believe they would be receiving another key for it from Japan in the few weeks following our purchase. This was not the case; as the manager just informed me, most cars sold by auction in Japan come with only one key and they haven’t gotten anything else from the auction since.” wrote Higgins in a Victoria Buzz Facebook post.

John Higgins tried everything he could think of to find the lost keys, offering a reward, looking in trash cans, even leaving shiney objects near the minivan and following the crows that picked them up in hopes of discovering the keys whereabouts.

After the Facebook post went viral, the family had several offers by the hacking community to hack the car and unlock/start it but they were advised against it because it could cause irreversible damage.

Higgins told a local newspaper, “In the hybrid system, the engine may work, but the wheels are connected to an electric motor that charges the battery. If the wheels spin, but the computer isn’t properly configured to recognize that, the batteries could charge until they explode, for example… If it was just a gas engine, this would be a different story.”

“We’re in a twilight zone of car situations.”

After the van sat in a parking lot for two weeks, it was towed to a local dealership where it remained for almost two months. The dealership reached out to a trusted mechanic who then reached out to a local hacker who asked to remain anonymous.

The hacker and the mechanic successfully entered the minivan, removed the dash and identified the immobilizer in order to reprogram it to work with new… less one-of-a-kind, keys.

The ordeal cost the family around $3,500 and the dealership that they bought the minivan from has agreed to pay half of the costs. Also, the family says they have locked up one of the three new sets of keys in a safety deposit box.

Desktop VS Laptop – Which Best Suits You

In the ever changing world of computers and technology, the next new device or computer is always just around the corner. Whether it be the new all-in-one touch screen desktop or the brand new laptop/tablet convertible, you have a choice to make.

Finding which style suits you best is probably the hardest part. On one hand the laptop is versitile and you can take it with you anywhere, but the desktop has the huge monitor and is constantly hooked to your home network. Now you’re standing in the store staring at the two weighing options and trying to figure out which is going home with you.

Well, maybe this post can be of a little assistance in the process. Take into consideration first, for what do you use your computer? Are you a business professional and in need of a portable workspace, or are you the casual internet browser who likes to catch up on TV and movies. Keep in mind that the average person keeps the same computer for an average of 4 – 7 years after purchase. Make sure you get what you need.

Here is a list of reasons you might want to purchase a laptop:

  1. You are a business professional.
  2. You don’t know when and where you might get tasked with building a spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation for your boss or client.
  3. You take your work with you when meeting clients and business prospects.
  4. You spend very little time at home.
  5. You spend much of your time on the road or traveling.
  6. You don’t have space for a workstation.

Here is a list of reasons you might want to purchase a desktop:

  1. You have a home workstation.
  2. You share the computer with family.
  3. You need a large monitor for graphic design, movie production, animation etc.
  4. You have a list of periferrals you use frequently that are not easily portable.
  5. You are a intense ‘Gamer’

There are more reasons to consider and each person has their own criteria for which machine they are going to unbox, but these are just some things that I recommend people think about when making a computer purchase. It’s an important purchase and making sure you have something that fits who you are and your needs will ensure a better ‘friendship’ between you and your computer.