VW Is Trying to Make Up for Not Helping Police Find Kidnapped Child

The Volkswagen logo is seen at a car dealership on October 8, 2015 in Bath, England
The Volkswagen logo is seen at a car dealership on October 8, 2015 in Bath, England

Volkswagen is trying to make good after it badly botched the handling of a stolen 2021 Atlas with a child inside last week. The German automaker has announced that it will provide five years of free Car-Net Safe & Secure connected emergency services in the U.S. for “most model year 2020 to 2023 vehicles.” Those services include automatic crash notification, emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator (the big one in this instance) and anti-theft alerts.

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A basic Car-Net package was free before, but Safe & Secure was an add-on feature that required a paid subscription. That’s where the issue arose. In February, we reported that an Atlas with a two-year-old child was stolen from a pregnant mother’s driveway in a Chicago suburb. Police got in contact with a Car-Net operator to locate the crossover and the child, but they were not able to gain tracking for the vehicle until they paid a $150 fee to restore coverage.

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Despite the fact that police plead their case with the operator, there was nothing they could do. Eventually, they called Car-Net back to pay the $150 fee, but by that time, the vehicle had already been located with the child thankfully unharmed inside. The mother, who was run over by the car as she tried to fend off the carjackers, was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition.

“The family was thankfully reunited, but the crime and the process failure are heartbreaking to me,” Rachel Zaluzec, VW’s SVP of Customer Experience and Brand Marketing, said. “As a mom and an aunt, I cannot imagine how painful this incident must have been. Words can’t adequately express how truly sorry I am for what the family endured.”

As you may have imagined, this caused a bit of a PR nightmare for Volkswagen, so it’s not really a surprise that they did something to remedy the situation.

“Volkswagen must and will do better for everyone that trusts our brand and for the law enforcement officials tasked with protecting us. In addition to a full investigation of what went wrong and actions taken to address this failure, we want to make it right for the future,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

There’s no word on what Volkswagen did for the family impacted by this “serious breach in process,” but hopefully it was more than a free subscription service.

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