Last fall General Motors began its rollout of the OnStar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown feature that allows law enforcement to remotely bring a stolen car's speed down to a crawl, so that the car can then be shut down in a safe manner and recovered. Today, the OnStar stolen vehicle services list adds Remote Ignition Block to keep thieves from re-starting the vehicle once it has been shut off.

That will keep the stolen car from being an effective getaway vehicle and help police recover the car as well, says OnStar president Chet Huber. "Remote Ignition Block is a prime example of the rapid pace of technological innovation underway at OnStar. We are developing services desired by our subscribers that deliver important societal benefits."

To use the system, the OnStar subscriber must first report their vehicle stolen to the police and then request assistance directly from OnStar. The law enforcement agency then gets involved, confirming an theft has occurred with OnStar. OnStar then locates the vehicle with its on-board GPS systeml and sends the signal to block the ignition on the next restart.

Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and Remote Ignition Block features are still only available on a select set of 2009 and 2010 model year vehicles in North America. The OnStar system can also give emergency services your vehicle's exact location during an emergency call.

"Technology like Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and now Remote Ignition Block will improve the chances of apprehending suspected car thieves and are great assets to the law enforcement community" said Michigan’s Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. "Removing an instrument of harm from the hands of criminals improves the safety of our officers, our highways and our citizens."

The FBI's statistics back Bouchard up: over 1 million cars are stolen each year, and over 300 people die each year in high-speed chases. Though not all of those chases involve stolen cars, many do, and the ability to shutdown those cars remotely could save lives.