Modern fleet management poses many challenges. But among the most potentially costly is van and car theft. More specifically, this means the short-term and long-term costs associated with vehicle crime.
It is natural to assume that as vehicle tracking technology has become more sophisticated, vehicle loss would have declined. Yet the challenge of van and car theft continues to plague the mobility industry – and it is an issue of particular concern in sectors that offer use of their vehicles to the general public – whether they are traditional rental and leasing businesses or car clubs.
In 2020 alone, 78,663 fleet vehicles were stolen – and fewer than half of them (just 45%) were recovered. In fact, a full 72% of all cars stolen today are never handed back to their keeper. And it’s not just about car theft. Van theft is a particular problem, costing UK businesses £264 million in 2020. The most frequently stolen model of van in Britain is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 313 CDI. 1,169 were stolen in 2020 – and of that figure, only 247 were recovered. That’s less than a quarter. Its sister model fared even worse, with 860 vans stolen and just 112 recovered.
Even in cases where a deliberate theft has not taken place, hire businesses and car clubs often face the issue of a vehicle being kept longer than permitted. From a practical point of view, the situation is the same: you need to find a way to recover it. This is made significantly more difficult when the vehicle in question is not fitted with a car anti-theft device such as a GPS tracker – and right now, only 52% of fleet vehicles are. In fact, a tracker could be considered the most important anti-theft device.
It’s more complicated than just how to protect your vehicle
When it comes to security and stolen vehicle recovery, businesses are faced with several challenges. Chief among them is the ever-increasing sophistication of the criminal gangs responsible for much van and car theft. That’s because the days of independent thieves stealing cars are waning. Today, vehicle theft is big business. Organized criminals have invested in technology, especially where necessary to unlock and activate vehicles with digital keys. They run efficient distribution networks, enabling them to sell or otherwise dispose of vehicles far from the places they were stolen, very soon after the theft took place. This growing criminal sophistication contributes enormously to the statistics above
There are also more mundane reasons why so many stolen vehicles are not recovered. Even in the largest fleet businesses, it can be challenging to predict inappropriate vehicle usage – or even to recognise it while it is happening. This in turn is often due to limited resources, both in terms of technology and skills. Vehicle monitoring and stolen vehicle recovery is often considered time-consuming and expensive, especially to a business that already spends significant sums on insuring its vehicles. It is easy to see why a sophisticated vehicle security system might seem like a needless extra expense. That’s before considering issues like the speed with which a stolen vehicle can be practically recovered, plus the very real issue of the health and safety of those tasked with getting it back.
Fundamentally, however, there is a technology issue – which brings us back to the most important of the figures above. Just 52% of fleet vehicles are fitted with trackers. This is critical, especially in older fleets where the vehicles lack modern connected car technology. Because if you can’t see where a stolen vehicle has gone, your chances of finding it are negligible.
Key considerations for maximising vehicle security
Some organizations attempt to go it alone, piecing together in-house vehicle security solutions. However, implementing a truly effective security system can be challenging, due to the complexity involved in a fully comprehensive solution, key elements can easily be missed – and a system is only as strong as its weakest links. At a minimum, an effective solution will be designed around the following four considerations:
1. Security hardware
Researching, selecting and procuring the correct security hardware devices is fundamental. Whether you choose GPS trackers or professionally installed black boxes (or a combination of both) establishing which hardware device will best meet your needs is critical.
2. Vehicle monitoring and stolen vehicle recovery
Stolen vehicle recovery can be dangerous if not carried out properly. You must therefore examine the entire process of monitoring and recovery, including the systems, products and potential partnerships you may need to locate and repatriate your stolen vehicles, safely and effectively.
3. Theft alert and notification process
Stolen vehicles disappear quickly, so an effective alert and notification process is crucial. After all, the sooner businesses you know that one of your vehicles has been stolen vehicle, the sooner you can take the action necessary to recover it.
4. Additional security headcount
A vehicle security system can be complex – which means they need resourcing properly. Whether you hire an in-house team or acquire outsourced expertise, additional security headcount will be essential.
To learn more about how a fully managed, end-to-end security solution can benefit your business, please visit https://ims.tech/security/
What success looks like
When designing a system, you need objectives – and that starts with realistic benchmarks. While no vehicle security system is perfect, with the right solution in place you can reasonably aim to recover 90% of lost vehicles, provided they are fitted with tracking equipment. You should be capable of launching an investigation response within 15 minutes of a vehicle being reported missing, with on-site stolen vehicle recovery taking place within three hours. Achieve all this and the effect on your business could be significant. Large rental fleets, for example, could save up to £25,000 per day.
IMS (Insurance & Mobility Solutions) is a vehicle and driving data business, delivering enterprise solutions to over 350 customers including mobility operators, insurers and governments. IMS recently launched its Vehicle Data Exchange, which enables the IMS DriveSync platform to ingest and process data from any source – from OEM embedded units to smartphones and aftermarket hardware. The company, with offices in the UK, Europe and North America, has analyzed over 15 billion driving miles and its algorithms are fed by trillions of data points every hour.
IMS Vehicle Security Solution
The IMS Vehicle Security Solution provides a fully managed end-to-end security solution with flexibility around your choice of security hardware devices, so whether you choose a GPS tracker (IMS Sleeper) or a professionally installed black box (T7) you can decide which is best for your business. For more information on the IMS Vehicle Security Solution, visit: https://ims.tech/security/
To learn more about security device options and IMS’s fully managed security solution, download the resources below:
IMS Vehicle Security Solution – Security Hardware Options data sheet: https://ims.tech/resources/vehicle-security-solution/
IMS Vehicle Security Solution data sheet: https://ims.tech/resources/vehicle-security/