GPS tracking device unearths chop shops
Patrick Foster, Jamaica Observer - April 6, 2008
Amidst runaway car thefts in the island, modern technology has provided an almost foolproof method of motor vehicle security — the much-heralded global positioning system (GPS) tracking device. According to industry data, a motor vehicle is stolen in Jamaica, on average, every seven hours with the recovery rate lagging single-digit per cent behind.
The GPS tracking device, however, offers an opportunity, not only to improve the recovery rate, but also unearth the numerous chop shops where stolen vehicles are routinely scrapped. “With an increased use of the system, it has led to the discovery of many chop shops across the island,” Patrick Jones of Hawkeye Electronic Security told Auto.
Hawkeye is one of the three local security companies promoting the state-of-the-art motor vehicle tracking service. According to Jones, use of the cutting-edge system has been “growing tremendously” island wide, both in private motor vehicles and for company fleet control. “The clientele is great,” he said, without giving exact figures. And with sophisticated approaches being taken by criminals, even using wreckers to steal vehicles, Jones strongly recommends the tracking device. “Even with an alarm and immobiliser a vehicle can be quickly removed by a wrecker and this is where a tracking device is effective,” he said, adding that there were no gadgets to scramble or divert the GPS signal from vehicle.
Insurance companies Globe, NEM and ICWI have also embraced the system, offering up to 15 per cent discount on comprehensive insurance premiums if a tracking device is installed in a vehicle. Jones however cautioned that no matter the virtues of the tracking system, it is not a deterrent to robbery as there is no way of knowing if a tracking device is installed in motor vehicle. “The device is installed in a discrete part of the vehicle and there is no way of knowing exactly where it is placed,” said Jones.
Installation, he added, is a very meticulous process and takes up to three hours to complete. What the tracker does, he explained, is transmit the exact location of a vehicle, in real time, to the monitoring centre from anywhere in the island. Redundancies are also built into the device to allow continuous transmission even if the motor vehicle-battery is disconnected. “We have a system that uses a back-up battery which allows the signal to be transmitted when the battery is disconnected,” said Jones.
With the tracking device the location of a vehicle is immediately transmitted to a monitoring base if the vehicle is removed out of a prescribed area or contact is made via a panic button signal or telephone. A tracking system costs approximately $30,000 for installation plus an annual fee of $18,000, payable in monthly instalments of $1,500 for the 24-hour monitoring of a vehicle. “We do not sit down and monitor a vehicle as it moves, but once we receive a signal we act on it immediately,” Jones said, adding that the rapid response team from his company works in conjunction with the police.
At Hawkeye an engine immobiliser, which allows the vehicle to be shut down from the base, and a fixed or remote panic button are priced as separate options. “If you are in an uncomfortable situation the panic switch can be activated,” said Jones. “Once we get that signal a team is dispatched,” he assured.