Police warn truckers about rise in CPC thefts

November 9, 2022

Ryan Witkowski


A recent spike in thefts of an expensive semi part has police in California telling drivers to be vigilant when parking their trucks.

According to the Bakersfield Police Department, thieves in Kern County, Calif., are targeting common powertrain controller modules in parked semis. The CPC module – considered the brain of the truck – controls vital engine and powertrain functions. If the CPC module is removed, the truck is rendered inoperable until costly repairs can be made.

With a current global shortage of new CPC modules, police say thieves are targeting truckers and selling stolen units on the black market. According to Bakersfield Police, the module can be removed within minutes, adding that thieves can often cause damage to windows, dashboards and wire harnesses while trying to remove it.

The price of a new CPC module can range from $1,400 to $1,600. According to a report from KGET, CPCs sold on the black market can bring in anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. Once stolen, the device can be re-programmed and used in a different truck.

Officials said the increase in thefts began in September. Sergeant Robert Pair, public information officer with the Bakersfield Police Department, tells Land Line that since September they have had 27 reported CPC thefts. Pair said the majority of the reported incidents occurred in unsecured long-term parking lots, dirt lots, and unsecured mechanics shops.

Pair said that at this time there is no evidence to suggest the string of thefts is the work of an organized group, but added, “based upon patterns from other auto theft component investigations, there is a high likelihood of organized group involvement.”

The Bakersfield Police Department says drivers can help prevent being the target of a theft by following these tips:

  • Park in an illuminated area and position your truck in the view of surveillance cameras.
  • Park in parking lots with security personnel. If traveling, plan ahead to locate safe areas to park.
  • Install an alarm system on your vehicle.
  • When exiting your vehicle, roll up all windows, lock the doors, and ensure your keys are in your possession.
  • Enable password protection for the CPC. Contact the vehicle manufacturer for more information.
  • Remain vigilant and report suspicious persons to law enforcement.

The recent rise in CPC module thefts mirrors those seen in Pennsylvania earlier this year. In April, around 24 Freightliner trucks had the CPC module stolen while the vehicles were awaiting sale at auction. The rise in thefts is being noted by the industry as well. In May, Daimler Truck North America launched an initiative to combat the theft of CPC modules in its vehicles. LL