It may not be something we want to think about too much, but car theft is a sad fact of life these days and with thieves working quickly to erase identification marks and swapping number plates, it is often down to chance as to whether our pride and joy can be recovered or not, leaving us with only the headache and hassle of an insurance claim. So anything we can do to make life harder for car thieves is a positive step.
One of the biggest tools in today's anti-theft toolbox is a GPS tracking device, taking advantage of the recent dramatic advances in satellite technology and the increasing scope of its coverage. These devices can track a vehicle down to within 3 metres of its location anywhere in the world. Much like custom engine tuning boxes, a GPS tracker can be retrofitted to almost any vehicle. They range from relatively simple devices that purely track the vehicle all the way through to models that can disable the vehicle by cutting the power to the ignition.
The retrofitted tracker & custom engine tuning box
GPS is short for Global Positioning System. Generally speaking, a tracker will bounce information to three satellites, and this can then be triangulated to locate the vehicle, often with almost pinpoint accuracy. It works in much the same way as a mobile phone.
Some GPS Trackers are, of course, more sophisticated than others and can provide information such as the speed of the vehicle, and its direction of travel broadcast in real-time. Others will simply record this for recovery later.
This can be of great benefit in not only deterring theft but for logistics and delivery companies that need to keep customers updated and check if the driver is operating within the speed limits. They can also track and record the mileage of the vehicle, which can greatly aid in bookkeeping and servicing schedules. The systems can also locate broken-down vehicles in the event of an emergency when the drivers are unsure of where they are.
Some trackers will have an inbuilt battery and need charging from time to time, while others will work directly from the battery of the vehicle in the same way that a custom engine tuning box does. Another category of GPS tracker will plug directly into a car's diagnostics connecter or OBD port. In the event of theft, all of this information can be directly sent to the Police who have teams of trained staff to deal with it.
Insurance Implications of a GPS Tracker
For certain ultra-high-value cars in high-risk locations, insurers may insist on tracking devices being installed before they will consider covering the car. Other providers may offer discounted insurance for cars fitted with the device. Either way, it is always worth checking the insurance implications before you fit one. As with any customisation, always inform the insurance company of any changes you have made to the vehicle before taking it on the road.