by Paul Williams
The number of unrecovered stolen vehicles in Canada is rising each year. It’s up to 27%, or about 40,000 cars annually that disappear without a trace. Compare this to a 98% recovery rate in the mid-1960s, and you see the problem. But the overall number of stolen vehicles is going down. How can this be?
What’s happening is that many stolen vehicles are given false vehicle identification numbers and re-sold. Some are quickly shipped out of the country, and others are chopped for parts.
Late-model SUVs and luxury cars are the wheels of choice, and specific models, even specific colours, may be stolen to order. This is what the insurance and law enforcement industries call enterprise theft, and it’s the domain of the professional car thief and organized gangs.
Vehicle immobilizers are the most effective theft-deterrents, but they won’t stop your car from being towed or flat-bedded. There’s nothing on the market to deal with that.
So, you discover that your car’s gone. Now what?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have some kind of James Bond tracking device to pinpoint your vehicle’s location?
No problem. The Boomerang vehicle tracking system will do just that. Montreal-based Boomerang Tracking Inc has been marketing this product with great success for just over four years. The recovery rate for vehicles equipped with the Boomerang system is 95%.
It’s a small transmitter installed in your car. When you report your car stolen, the Boomerang tracking station can find the transmitter’s signal in less than an hour, sometimes in a matter of minutes.
The enhanced Boomerang 2 doesn’t even need you to report the theft – it automatically connects with the tracking station if the car is moved without being started, or if the battery is disconnected.
“Our system is so sophisticated that if you car’s parked in a two-car garage, I can tell you whether it’s parked on the left or the right,” says Boomerang General Manager, Craig Armstrong.
Recently, the Boomerang system located an SUV in Los Angeles that was stolen a few days earlier in Toronto.
“The police down there were totally amazed,” said Craig Armstrong. “They couldn’t believe we’d found this vehicle. We’ve found vehicles in metal shipping containers at the docks, in underground parking lots, or hidden in barns out in the country.”
Boomerangs have been used for a while to protect heavy equipment, like trucks, bulldozers, and marine equipment. But with the increase in unrecovered cars, especially expensive cars, it’s now become cost-effective to apply the technology to passenger vehicles. People are using them on their expensive motorcycles, too.
Currently the company has 100,000 subscribers and has recovered over 5,800 vehicles, or approximately $290 million worth of property.
The diminutive Boomerang is carefully hidden in the vehicle. Even the car’s owner doesn’t know where it’s located. If the vehicle is stolen, the Boomerang headquarters in Montreal locates it using signals sent through the cell phone system. This means that if the vehicle is anywhere in Canada, the US or Mexico, it can be found.
This is unlike the LoJack system used by many commercial trucking firms. That uses a satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS), and is not yet available in Canada.
Once located, Boomerang sends its own people to bring your car back. Local law enforcement agencies are notified and are typically involved in the recovery.
Cost of the system starts at $699.00 installed and it includes the first year of service. The monitoring fees are about $9.00 per month. Many insurers will provide a rebate or reduction in your vehicle insurance premium to offset this.
Currently the system is available for installation in BC, Ontario and Quebec. The full list is available online or by phone.
Contact Boomerang Tracking Inc. through their website at boomerangtracking.com, or call 1-877-777-TRAC (8722).
One more thing. How about integrating one of those new micro-cameras into the Boomerang system? They could hide it in the rear-view mirror, and point it at the driver. Then it could transmit the thief’s expression of surprise when the car’s pulled over and recovered!