March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 09.04

Don't Mess With GPS

GPS technologies help police wrangle up the millions of dollars of merchandise stolen from U.S. roads each year.
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By Michelle Maisto




Police in North Texas are poised tobust a ring of truck thieves, according to CSI Wireless, a Calgary-based designer of GPS technologies. Using CSI’s Asset-Link technology, police have already recovered $2.7 million worth of stolen goods, including 24 truck tractors and 26 trailers, plus cargo such as furniture, electronics and more. Lt. Tim Stewart, who is assigned to the North Texas Auto Theft Task Force, reported to CSI that millions of dollars of cargo goes missing each week in the United States, and he encouraged trucking companies to consider asset-tracking solutions.

CSI has deployed more than 150,000 asset-tracking units in recent years. Traditionally, a trucking company purchases the units from a company such as HeavyTrack, AirIQ, Datacom or others, which combine CSI’s hardware with their software solutions. The company then attaches the units to its trucks and, should one be stolen, police can follow the GPS signal directly to it. CSI Wireless offers two product lines: Asset-Link, which integrates GPS and wireless technology and includes an Aeris.net Microburst version for tracking and cellular coverage throughout North America (a separate version for coverage in nearly every country where GSM is the standard will be available later this year); and Fleet-Link, an asset-tracker designed specifically for tracking trailers and which can operate by solar power.

“Thieves wanting to circumvent the systems usually try by disconnecting the vehicle’s battery, on the assumption that this will eliminate power to the tracking system,” CSI’s Jeff Adams wrote in an e-mail. “However, our Asset-Link and Fleet-Link Systems are available with back-up battery power. When the back-up battery is initiated, an alert is sent to [the trailer’s] owner.”

According to a statement by Alan Day, president of HeavyTrack, the tracking system being used by Texas police cost approximately $500, plus from $16 in monthly service fees—not bad, considering the value of the potentially stolen trailers and their cargo

In a twist, many of the trucks stolen by the North Texas ring were not equipped with GPS. However, a court order authorized the police to install CSI’s Asset-Link units on the cars of suspected thieves. Presumably, police are now poised for the offenders to convene, leading them to the hijacked loot.
—Michelle Maisto
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