BMW remote lock car thief
Did BMW imprison an unwitting car thief inside a stolen vehicle using its ConnectedDrive technology? Reuters

Being locked out of their car is a nightmare scenario for many drivers, but how about getting locked inside? That was reportedly the case for a 38-year-old man who found himself trapped behind the wheel of a BMW 550i in Seattle in late November.

This was all no accident however, as the door locks were remotely activated by BMW on purpose after the car maker was contacted by local police. As for the gentleman stuck inside: he was arrested on suspicion of stealing the car after officers found it at the side of the road, with the unaware prisoner taking a nap in the driver's seat.

A Seattle Police Department report recounts how the alleged car thief came upon the unlocked car in a parking garage with the key still inside. The rather lackadaisical approach to security was later pinned on one of the car owner's friends who had borrowed the vehicle.

The police were eventually alerted in the early hours of 27 November, and at this point the officers involved in the investigation contacted the vehicle's maker. The German car company proceeded to track the car, alert officers to its location and use remote locking controls to hinder the BMW bandit's ill-fated escape.

"Officers roused the suspect, who quickly, but unsuccessfully, tried to drive away," wrote Jonah Spangenthal-Lee on the SPD Blotter, a Seattle Police news site. "Police arrested the 38-year-old man, and found he was carrying a small amount of methamphetamine. He was booked into the King County Jail for auto theft and drug possession."

The report does not explain how exactly BMW managed to create the makeshift jail, but it is highly likely that the crafty employees utilised the company's ConnectedDrive system - BMW's optional in-car OS that allows owners to remotely access air conditioning and heating controls, honk the car's horn, or, crucially in this case, lock or unlock the doors via a mobile app.

Clearly amused by the tale, Spangenthal-Lee imagined that the BMW employees responsible for imprisoning the alleged culprit also muttered "I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me" into the car's sound system - a memorable quote uttered by the violent vigilante Rorschach in the DC Comics graphic novel, Watchmen.