Professional Builder talks to CanTrack about its asset protection services.
After two decades of decline, every category of vehicle crime is on the increase, and it’s not just about opportunistic thieves targeting commercial vehicles for the promise of tools. If you think a lone thief armed with nothing more complicated than a brick is the problem then think again.
Highly organised criminal gangs are now using often quite sophisticated technologies to overcome vehicle security. Where a Range Rover or Jaguar might be swiftly spirited out of the country, vans are more commonly broken down for parts, with components like catalytic convertors highly prized and, of course, if it happens to be laden with tools that’s a welcome additional pay day for the criminally inclined.
“LCVs are being very heavily targeted at present, with thefts from vehicles in 2017 up to 438,000, whilst 97,000 were stolen,” explains Peter Thompson of CanTrack. “As far as we’re concerned the message is clear: if thieves are determined to steal your vehicle, they’re going to get it, but CanTrack can offer a further level of protection, and when it comes to commercial vehicles we are presently maintaining a recovery rate of 100 per cent.”
The statistics make a compelling case for the CanTrack solution, especially when the modern arsenal of weaponry now available to thieves is concerned. “When it comes to theft from vans, installing a relatively inexpensive motion sensing alarm in the load area that can be set when the door is closed, and will activate on unlawful entry, is about the best deterrent you’re going to get,” advises Peter Thompson. “The solutions we provide, however, are for theft of vehicles, and if you look at the figures for two of the biggest manufacturers alone – Ford and Mercedes – in the 2017/18 period they saw an increase of theft of around 170 per cent.”
Tradespeople who have often been repeatedly targeted might be tempted to switch to a manufacturer that is perceived to invest more in the problem, but this is not necessarily a solution either. The Mercedes Benz Sprinter might be an industry leader in security, with the likes of immobilisers and deadlocks available as standard, but, simply because of the value of its parts, it is equally amongst the chief targets of criminal gangs.
The internet now provides the key to the criminal fraternity’s own personal Aladdin’s cave, with all of the tools required freely available, and, as long as it’s not in the commission of an offence, none of it is illegal to buy, sell or even use. Peter Thompson continues: “A ‘tibbe tumbler’ lock pick worth £20 will open a door with no damage, and entire kits for stealing vehicles are available, including copies or clones of a vehicle’s keys.
A £24 product will fool a van’s computer systems into thinking a steering lock’s active when it isn’t, and as the technology gets cheaper, the skillset required to gain entry is diminished. Not only that but if the van is being stolen for parts, damage isn’t a problem, and brute force attacks will suffice. A steering wheel look can simply be cut away, taking a section of steering wheel with it, or locks can be drilled out. Perpetrators can then process dozens of vehicles in a ‘chop shop’ in the course of a week, and vehicles, or the toolboxes within, are never seen again.”
For the price of the hardware and a subscription fee, CanTrack Asset can protect not only vehicles but also individual toolboxes, or large and expensive individual items, like cut off saws, and it is the combination of tracking technology and a team of investigators that sets this company apart. Head of Investigations, John Musset explains: “Our investigators, who are all ex police officers, are strategically placed around the country and, if you’re a customer and have a crime number, we will take the lead and go out and track it. Given the pressures on police numbers, and a well-documented lack of communication across county lines, that’s a unique selling point for us.”
Utilising various communication methods, the trackers hidden in the vehicle will provide a signal, and communicate whether the target is on the move or stationery. The technology will penetrate steel or concrete containers and is very difficult to jam or detect with scanners – which means there’s less prospect of the thieves removing the trackers after theft – whilst CanTrack will also advise where to put the units.
“We’re talking about organised criminal gangs who will learn what is safe to steal and what to pass over. In order to find our units you’d pretty much have to take the vehicle apart, and that’s why they will simply move on to easier pickings. Our proposition is that, if an asset is stolen, a combination of technology and investigation will lead to recovery.”