Borrowing from the Movies

October 15, 2007

Borrowing from the Movies

For years, we’ve seen it in the movies and on television. The good guys catch the bad guys by using all sorts of tracking devices and monitors to follow the thieves and find the stolen goods. In the movies, only 007 James Bond or the top-level secret agents could access the devices and complex computer networks to thwart the thieves.

Today, it’s not just futuristic imagining. Even you can employ the latest technology to virtually eliminate equipment theft at your shop or to recover stolen property in minutes.
Using global positioning satellites (GPS), enhanced global positioning satellites (Linked with cellular telephones), or radio frequency technology, your equipment can be monitored or located and identified in moments.

The system works by installing a transmitter, sometimes called a tag or personal tracking device, on the equipment at your dealership. The transmitter has an identification code for the particular piece of equipment and for your dealership. Once the transmitter is activated, either by movement outside your lot or by a call from your dealership reporting that the equipment is missing, the response center for the monitoring company can track your equipment to within 30 feet of its location.

Several companies manufacture this type of tracking equipment. Each manufacturer has a different type of transmitter, different type of monitoring, and a different type of tracking method. Some companies allow users to build a “virtual fence” around their lots or any specific area to control the zone of alert. One company charges for the transmitter, then monitors only after they receive a call from the dealership indicating the equipment is missing, charging for services based on recovery of the equipment. Most, however, charge for the transmitter, then charge a monthly fee for monitoring the equipment.

Regardless of the method, these tracking devices are very accurate. In one instance, thieves stole a tractor-trailer rig, valued at $84,000, from a construction site. They then went to another construction site where they loaded a $30,000 backhoe into the enclosed van trailer. When the backhoe, equipped with a transmitter, was moved from the construction site, the specialist at the response center was alerted. The specialist called the sheriff’s department and deputies arrested two thieves within one hour of the alert. Time would have been shorter, but the deputies were at first skeptical that the stolen backhoe was inside the trailer van they were following.

This technology also benefits equipment dealers who rent farm or construction equipment. The tracking devices can monitor the actual engine hour information to ensure proper billing. The fleet manager can even generate reports and maps from the latest location and engine hour update from an Internet browser.

Most of the monitoring is available nationwide since GPS and cell phones are used. Some tracking companies monitor on 24-hour basis, while others monitor only after the dealership reports missing equipment. Thus the cost of monitoring will vary considerably. Like VCRs and other electronics that have become commonplace, the prices of tracking devices will also go down as the technology advances.

Now you can use the same tools as the best movie detectives to prevent theft and recover equipment if a theft does occur. Thanks to new techniques and rapidly changing technology, you can be the hero of your own story.

This article provided courtesy of Federated Mutual Insurance Company, your association’s recommended insurer.


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