Clueless carjacker foiled by OnStar, Find My iPad

OnStar button press

Detailed on AZFamily as well as Phoenix’s Good Morning Arizona today, 31-year old Jasper Stewart was caught by police after a couple forms of digital technology put an end to his joyride in a stolen car. On the morning of September 7, Stewart approached an SUV sitting in the parking lot with a young woman and child sitting in the back seat. The young woman, Kaitlyn McGrath, is the nanny of one-year-old Cash Powell, the child of fitness experts Heidi Powell and Chris Powell. Chris Powell is well known as the trainer and life coach on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. While Heidi Powell was in a nearby salon, Kaitlyn McGrath and Cash Powell were sitting in the SUV playing with an iPad in the backseat in order to keep Cash entertained. 

Cash PowellStewart knocked on the window of the SUV and McGrath rolled down the window slightly to hear him. Stewart then threatened to kill both Kaitlyn McGrath and Cash Powell unless they got out of the vehicle. Kaitlyn McGrath grabbed the one-year-old child immediately as Stewart got into the front seat of the SUV. As Stewart pulled away in the SUV with the iPad still located in the car, a call was immediately placed to 911. When police arrived on the scene, Mrs. Powell informed police that the car was equipped with OnStar. 

According to an OnStar representative, Mrs. Powell got in touch with an OnStar Advisor in order to report the car as stolen. After Mrs. Powell provided her OnStar account information, police on the scene were able to officially confirm that the car had been stolen. At this point, the OnStar Advisor initiated a Remote Ignition Block which makes it impossible to start the vehicle back on after it’s been turned off.

OnStar button rearview mirrorWhen we contacted OnStar about this situation, OnStar Global Emergency Services Outreach Manager George Baker said “When a vehicle with active OnStar is reported stolen by law enforcement, OnStar uses the vehicle’s internal GPS to relay its exact location to authorities. We’ve been able to successfully locate more than 60,000 stolen vehicles to date.”  

Baker continued “In the 2009 model year, we introduced a couple of other enhancements to our stolen vehicle services. The first is called Remote Ignition Block, where we can send a signal to a stolen vehicle that makes it impossible to re-start the ignition once the vehicle has been turned off. This is what we used in the recovery of Mrs. Powell’s vehicle.”

Regarding further measures, Baker explained “If the vehicle is running, OnStar can work to safely immobilize the vehicle and avoid a potentially dangerous high speed pursuit. First, our Advisor speaks with authorities in pursuit to make sure they have sight of the stolen vehicle and that conditions are safe for a slowdown. OnStar then sends a signal to disable the accelerator and gradually slow down the vehicle to an idle speed.  Braking and steering functions remain intact, allowing for a quick and safe capture of the thief. We call this feature Stolen Vehicle Slowdown.”

Jasper Stewart carjackerAfter the vehicle was disabled by OnStar, it’s likely that OnStar relayed the vehicle’s current location to police. However, Stewart took the iPad and attempted to leave the area on foot. Using Apple’s Find My iPad application, police were quickly able to find Stewart based off the GPS location of the iPad. After locating Stewart strolling down the road with iPad in hand, police were able to capture and arrest him. According to investigators, Stewart has an extensive criminal history.

Both Chris and Heidi Powell were extremely grateful that Kaitlyn acted quickly and made sure Cash was pulled from the vehicle safely. On Twitter, Chris Powell wroteOur nanny is SO AMAZING. She quickly responded and got Cash to safety. She is a rock star hero!” He also tweeted in appreciation of the quick response of Mesa’s police department as well as OnStar’s services regarding stolen vehicles.