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Eye in the sky keeps car thieves in check

Star Wars is under way in Thailand. And if the forces of good have their way it will be the last for car thieves. At least 10 vehicles a day are reported stolen in Bangkok, all cars or pickup trucks, police statistics reveal. Perhaps most significant is that the vehicles were parked near or outside their owners’ homes, without the security of private parking.

Now Loxley has set up ThaiLocation Tracking Centre (TTC) that will provide a satellite-based service that can deter car thieves and track vehicles that are stolen.

The tracking software was developed by Loxley’s trading partner, Mappoint-Asia, a high-resolution digital mapping company. The system can be tailored to customers’ needs other than car protection, tracing the movements of a cheating spouse, for example.

The system consists in part of a basic anti-theft tracking system, Viper, which is imported into Thailand by MappointAsia’s trading partner, DEI. The system has been integrated with MappointAsia’s GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) service, making the tracking of stolen cars more efficient.

Pongpuk Nicompukdee, MappointAsia’s vice-president for research and development, said the integrated product was called Viper Smart.

The original Viper chip imported by DEI could only track and memorise what the manufacturer programmed. For example, the system would be triggered when the car door was opened. However, Viper Smart would trigger a signal to the tracking centre if any attempt were made to move the car whether by starting the engine, rolling the car or lifting the vehicle onto a truck. GPS could locate the vehicle anywhere in the world through 24 satellites.

Some 400 companies, including Shell and some commercial banks, are using the service, as well as 30,000 individuals. The number of clients is projected to increase by 10% this year.

Mr Pongpuk said Viper Smart had several advantages over basic anti-theft systems. For example, thieves could inactivate some systems by cutting off the power supply from the battery. However, the GPS-based system could not be isolated in that way. While at the wheel, the driver could signal for help by pushing a remote key. It was also possible, by remote control, to disable the car.

Customers were required to give the centre three contact numbers to phone and state what action they wanted the centre to take if they were unable to reply after signalling an emergency.

The charges are 25,000 baht for installing the tracking service, 35,000 baht for the Viper Smart anti-car theft system and a 400-baht monthly fee. The charges include the right to track the vehicle 20 times a month by calling the centre or initiating a search via the company’s web site. Each additional search costs five baht.