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Stolen vehicle recovery systems: Why GPS tracking software is a must

By Verizon Connect April 23, 2024

Why is it so important for fleets to implement proactive vehicle security and recovery programs that include GPS tracking software? The crime statistics paint a stark picture.

Commercial motor vehicles, equipment and cargo make for high-value theft targets. In 2022, there were 721,852 motor vehicle theft incidents submitted to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, according to the FBI.1 Only about a third of those vehicle thefts occurred at a residence, while a significant number took place at commercial facilities, parking lots and garages, as well as highways, alleys and streets. The average dollar loss per theft in the United States (including automobiles, trucks, buses, and other vehicles) is $9,166, and that cost is significantly higher for commercial vehicles, especially those carrying cargo.1

Because the cost of commercial vehicle theft to fleet owners and managers is so high—in terms of direct losses, insurance rate increases and lost time on jobs—decreasing any potential for asset theft as well as increasing the recovery rate of any stolen equipment is critical to your bottom line and peace of mind.

GPS tracking systems increase the chances of vehicle recovery

Tracking stolen vehicles used to be a time- and labor-intensive process where the police could only investigate based on license plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN) and vehicle description. Today, GPS-enabled vehicle recovery systems not only make locating stolen vehicles easy, but they can also help recover vehicles during an active theft situation.

Alerts can be set to warn fleet managers as soon as a vehicle is turned on or moved outside of a defined operating perimeter—or geofence—when it shouldn’t be. This enables fleet managers to notify local law enforcement agencies of unauthorized use as it happens. And the faster law enforcement is involved in addressing a potential theft, the more likely it is that the crime will be caught in progress. Reducing or eliminating asset theft, and increasing the likelihood of vehicle recovery, also prevents companies from having to make costly insurance claims and damaging their bottom line. Even when stolen vehicles and assets are recovered with damage present, the end cost is mitigated compared to a total loss.

Learn how to get total visibility, create no-go zones and track non-powered assets.

Ways to reduce insurance claim costs

Fleet managers can leverage a telematics solution and the comprehensive GPS data it generates in a number of ways to reduce insurance premiums:

  1. Using GPS tracking to help prevent vehicle theft and increase the likelihood of recovering stolen vehicles and assets mitigates total loss claims.
  2. Fleet dashcams show context when an incident does occur; if your driver was not actually at fault in a crash or theft situation, you can prove it with video evidence.
  3. Additionally, fleet dashcams and GPS tracking units can deter theft. Most providers sell tamper-resistant GPS devices that make it incredibly difficult to hack the system, and thieves not wanting to increase the risk of arrest often will move on to easier targets. 
  4. Most insurance companies provide a standard discount for proof of compliance with federal and state mandates. Telematics makes it easy to track compliance in one integrated system for hours-of-service (HOS) or the ELD mandate and DVIRs. Housing all of this data in a central system makes compliance a more seamless experience.

Why near real-time GPS tracking is essential

Some GPS tracking tech is used only for downloading data to review driver performance, but more sophisticated GPS asset tracking software can track the coordinates of a vehicle in near real time, which can help police during theft recovery.

If a vehicle theft occurs, GPS tracking can help you find a vehicle so you know exactly where it ends up, and provide information about the route it took to get there. A lot of data can be gleaned from GPS reports to understand why and how a vehicle theft occurred, enabling the implementation of new procedures to help prevent future incidents. 

Combating theft has become much simpler thanks to smart GPS tracking technology features, including:

  • Alerts that notify you if a vehicle has started or moved outside of a designated boundary.
  • GPS coordinates help you recover vehicles that have been stolen, preventing a total loss.
  • Early warning systems help keep drivers safe during carjackings and breakdowns.

How GPS helped one fleet manager recover a stolen vehicle

J&M Contracting works on construction projects all across Texas, and that sometimes requires leaving its trucks and heavy equipment unguarded during off hours. After losing a $50,000 backhoe to theft, J&M signed up for Verizon Connect Reveal to provide GPS tracking, fleet management and accurate data reporting. What makes Verizon Connect Reveal unique is its use of precise mapping by Google Maps API and minute-by-minute location of all vehicles, providing fleet managers with the exact locations of their assets around the clock. 

“We started with tracking for the backhoes and trucks,” said Safety and Fleet Manager Garland Spivey. “The backhoes are the main items that are stolen.”

The anti-theft benefits of the program paid off spectacularly, when a J&M backhoe was stolen from a work site and Spivey tracked it via Verizon Connect Reveal. 

“Someone drove the backhoe 17.23 miles down the street, over a lonely service road, and they must have seen law enforcement there because then they drove into the woods,” Spivey recounted. He contacted the authorities and quickly retrieved the asset.

“We get the backhoe back and don’t have to transfer another one to the job, and we don’t have to take the time to file an insurance claim, so it’s a win-win situation for us,” Spivey added. That also has resulted in lower equipment insurance premiums as no assets have gone unrecovered.

“Our insurance agent is so happy that we have this telematics system because we haven’t had to report a theft since we got into the Verizon program,” Spivey said.

To learn more about GPS and stolen vehicle recovery systems, request a demo from Verizon Connect today.

1FBI Crime Data Explorer https://cde.ucr.cjis.gov/LATEST/webapp/#/pages/explorer/crime/crime-trend

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Vehicle & asset security, Cost control, Safety

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