Over the course of 2017 alone, there were 15,309 vehicles reported stolen in Victoria. While it’s true that this number is actually more than 4,000 fewer than reported thefts from 2016, it’s still a massive problem — one that cost victims a combined $152 million in just 12 short months. Car theft is and has always been a major problem, but it’s certainly not one that people need to take laying down — particularly if the Victorian Police Department has anything to say about it.
In an effort to curb this problem (no pun intended) as much as possible, local law enforcement agencies have begun a trial program to install GPS trackers in cars throughout the area. The program itself, when it initially rolls out in full force, is being billed as a “game-changing move” to target car thieves using the full power of 21st century technology to the advantage of drivers everywhere.
Victorian Car Thieves and GPS Trackers
As of December 2017, a pilot program has begun that will see GPS trackers fitted into 1,000 different cars selected by dealerships in the Victoria area by February 2018. The cars themselves will be chosen from a list of some of the most heavily targeted makes and models in the country. What makes these particular GPS trackers unique, however, is that they take things one step further than just simply allowing you to see where a vehicle is at any given time.
These particular GPS trackers are synchronized to a very special smartphone application. With just the press of a single button, the car owner can use the app to create something of a “virtual perimeter” around the vehicle itself. If the car is moved outside the boundaries of that system, the owner is automatically alerted via both an email and an SMS text message as their car has very likely been stolen.
Think of it a bit like the type of tech-based dog collar that you might install on the family pet. Most modern-day pet trackers allow you to define the perimeter of your yard by way of a smartphone application. If the pet happens to move outside of that perimeter — such as if it goes chasing off after the mail truck as it travels down the street — the owner is alerted immediately. These trackers are a lot like that in practice, only they’re for cars.
Once the vehicle’s owner has been alerted, he or she can then manually alert the local authorities who will also have access to technology that lets them track the stolen car in real-time. Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill has indicated that the initial response to this trial program has already been overwhelmingly popular and he hopes that someday soon it will be installed in all new cars purchased throughout the area.
If the pilot program continues to be successful, the next phase involves ramping up production on the GPS trackers and forming partnerships with a wide range of different tracking companies. He believes that expanding the program from the initial 1,000 cars to 50,000 will happen very quickly. Beyond that, he expects to see the trackers installed in up to 100,000 different vehicles within the next 18 months.
Indeed, this is exceptional news for everyone who has ever worried that their vehicle might be stolen. If we reach an era in which a car comes off the assembly line and has this type of GPS tracking device installed in it automatically — as it appears we are quickly approaching — police will be able to instantly locate nearly any stolen vehicle throughout Victoria from a single point of access.
At that point, thieves had better start re-thinking their chosen profession because the risks of stealing any new car will far outweigh the potential benefits. Even cars that don’t have the GPS trackers installed will benefit, as the thieves will really have no way to be sure whether such a device is present or not. That will be a very happy day for drivers, to be sure.