Recovering Stolen Vehicles with GPS

What to consider if you need your GPS solution to help with theft prevention and recovery of stolen vehicles.

Posted by Jaleh Benson on 25th July 2017

There are a lot of GPS solutions on the market and they each have their own speciality, whether this be auto-RUC payments, detailed reporting on the performance of vehicles/staff, or a health and safety emphasis. Some come with more features than you need, others are tailored to a specific industry. If you want your GPS system to support the recovery of stolen vehicles, shop around and consider the features outlined below.

Seven key features you should be looking for

  1. GPS device needs to be hard-wired into your vehicle, out of sight.
  2. GPS device should use hidden internal antenna (for both GPS and cell); an external antenna inside the vehicle or on the roof is a dead giveaway
  3. A 24/7 live tracking web and/or mobile application so you can see where your vehicle is, and in the event of it being stolen you can provide Police with a location or live directions to recover your vehicle
  4. The GPS system should provide capability to set an alert telling you if the vehicle ignition is activated or if movement is detected
  5. Offenders also tow vehicles and machinery so you need capability for an alert when your vehicle is towed
  6. If offenders find the device they are likely to cut the power supply - the GPS device should include a battery back-up so it can continue to operate and the web application should also alert you that the power supply has been cut
  7. Find out if you can connect your vehicle alarm to your GPS device. This way, if the vehicle alarm goes off, you can be notified via the GPS system.

Plug ‘n Play and in-vehicle screens are too obvious

GPS devices that fit into cigarette lighters and visible OBD2 ports or Plug ‘n’ Play devices are great for portability and telematics but are not what you are after if you’d also like your GPS solution to assist with recovery of stolen vehicles. An offender will spot them, pull them out and throw them out of the window. The same goes for devices with screens on your dash – great for drivers to perform pre-driving tests, dispatch, e-logbooks but they are an obvious sign the vehicle has GPS and offenders will likely hunt out the device if they are determined to steal the vehicle.

Live tracking is a must

Systems that require you to text your device for an address mean the onus is on you to be thinking about your vehicle. If the vehicle isn’t where it should be, you are also relying on it being stationary otherwise you have to keep texting for an updated address to give to the Police. Live tracking options enable you to describe to Police where your vehicle currently is. If the vehicle is on the move, you can give directions for Police to follow.

Earlier this year, Jo Trotter from Scaffold Connect used her Fleetpin GPS system to provide Police in Manukau with a running commentary over the phone so they could track down their stolen work truck.

The truck was successfully located by the Police hidden behind a warehouse. The truck was back at work and undamaged with no need for an insurance claim. Other kiwi businesses have been able to track down their stolen vehicles too(Story 1, Story 2, Story 3).

Stress and hassle

When a work vehicle is stolen, the impact on small to medium businesses is significant. It’s a hassle reporting the stolen vehicle to Police, making an insurance claim and organising a replacement vehicle. Not having the vehicle available to carry out the day-to-day operations of the business can be stressful. A vehicle off the road may mean deliveries can’t be made, staff can’t get to the job site, or work simply grinds to a halt if the vehicle is the workhorse of your business.

In the past six months to 1 July 2017, over 3000 vehicles have been reported stolen to New Zealand Police. We know the drill about preventing theft of vehicles: lock doors, put expensive items out of sight, fit an alarm. Even with these measures, vehicles are still stolen. So what else can you do?

GPS devices won’t stop someone taking your vehicle but it’s no secret that vehicles fitted with GPS tracking devices do have a better chance of being recovered. If you are going to invest in GPS and you want to take advantage of its capability to support recovery of stolen vehicles, be sure to pick a solution that will give you the best chance.

If you’d like to know more about how Fleetpin GPS tracking can help with vehicle anti-theft, give us a call on 0800 110 820 or send us an email.