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Freightliner computer module ‘still a high theft item’ detective says

Drivers still stuck with inoperable Cascadias when thieves strike

The pace has slowed but thefts of computer modules from older Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 trucks are continuing.

Thefts of computer modules that control older Freightliner Cascadias continue. Daimler Truck North America says the pace is slowing after a rash of robberies in May.

The market-leading truckmaker told FreightWaves it has 340 theft reports from its Class 8 trucks as of the end of July.  Daimler reported a cumulative 175 thefts as of May.

“We’ve seen the number of reported incidents fall, but even one reported CPC [theft] is one too many,” a DTNA spokesman said. “This is why we’ve partnered with our dealers and customers to implement measures of deterrence, tracking and sharing information back with our customers and law enforcement to address these incidents.”

Little solace to theft victims

The computer module from Svetlana Uz’s 2016 Cascadia disappeared overnight Aug. 20-21, in Sacramento, California. She takes little solace from Daimler’s actions.

“After we filed a police report, we were told that they don’t guarantee that the item will be found, or who stole it,” Uz wrote in an email to FreightWaves. “The police did not express much hope of  locating the CPC module.”

Uz learned of the theft issue involving hundreds of other Cascadias after hers was swiped.

The rip-offs of common powertrain control (CPC) module 4 units relate to the ongoing shortage of microchips. Harvesting and reprogramming the modules allow them to work in other trucks, Daimler said in May.

In one of the larger thefts in April, thieves stole modules from 24 trucks awaiting sale at a Hess Auctioneers yard in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County.

“We have concluded our investigation regarding the theft of the CPC4 units,” Michael Kimes, a detective in the Criminal Investigative Unit of the Susquehanna Regional Police Department, told FreightWaves in an email. Two of the units were recovered. One person was charged with receiving stolen property.

“During the investigation, I found several cases involving the theft of these units being investigated by other agencies,” Kimes said. “These items are still currently being sold at a premium on the market and are still considered a high theft item.”

Daimler said it was aware of some arrests, prosecutions and recoveries, but it declined to provide details.

What Daimler does — and doesn’t — do on CPC theft

DTNA takes a multitier approach to handling reports of stolen CPCs, short of deactivating the units.

Once a CPC is reported stolen, the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the truck is entered into a database accessible by dealers. Dealers check CPC units against the database. The CPC will not be programmed if it is registered as stolen.

“DTNA is monitoring and tracking server activity for any CPCs that show a program date after the stolen date,” the company spokesman said. “DTNA can pull key data identifying those who conducted the programming and which vehicle has received a CPC reported stolen.”

Clarece Wilson, administrative services manager at D & W Trucking Inc. in Inglewood, California, said one of the company’s drivers parked a 2018 Cascadia on a street near his home and found a break-in the next day.

“Daimler did not state they could assist with locating a new [CPC],” Wilson told FreightWaves. “They only gave us a reference number.”

DTNA said Freightliner customers are grateful for the help the company has provided.

“Our customers have expressed appreciation for what DTNA is doing to help,” the spokesman said.

Editor’s note: Updates with comment from police detective in Pennsylvania.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler. 


  1. Nestor Somohano

    12 more just got stolen in S. El Monte, CA. overnight 9/15/2022, sheriff went to truck yard to investigate, a police report was filed.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.