Porsche Headlights Stolen & Held For Ransom In Russia

Your money or your lights! Porsche drivers in Russia are paying the former for the latter, victims of a scam that sees their expensive rides' easily-removed headlights heisted and held for ransom.

First noted in western Europe, the headlight hoodlums specifically targeted parked Porsche Panameras and Cayennes. Police initially suspected the headlights were being stolen by criminals running illegal marijuana grow-ops.

Unlike lighting systems designed for hydroponic farms, the xenon headlights installed in some Porsche models put out appreciable heat and light without consuming much electric power.

As well, the headlight systems themselves provided value on the auto parts black market and, surprisingly, are said to be relatively simple to remove from the outside without popping open the hood.

It's this factor – ease of removal – that has seen the Great Headlight Heist morph into something quite different in Russia where premium class SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne are favored by Moscow's one-percenters.

Local criminal gangs have found that it's more profitable to remove parked Porsche headlights and extort a fee for their safe return than to just grab & go, so to speak.

Here's how the scam works, according to English Russia: after removing and absconding with a pair of Porsche headlights, the perps secrete the headlights relatively close to the car. A note is left on the windshield, offering to reveal the location of the removed headlights... for a price.

As the usual ransom amount is typically less than the cost of a replacement pair of headlights, most victims would rather pay the ransom (via Bitcoin or some other untraceable virtual currency) and after doing so, receive a text stating where they can retrieve their headlights.

Will the assumed success of this scam (assumed due to the frequency of headlight-less Porsches seen parked on Moscow's streets) hurt the popularity of the German brand among deep-pocketed Muscovites? It's doubtful – if one can afford the Porsche, one can pay for occasional inconvenience.

What it might do, however, is discourage the local rednecks from customizing their much more miserable rides. (via AcidCow and English Russia)