How to choose the right vehicle tracking device for vehicle security and stolen vehicle recovery

The pros and cons of vehicle security devices

Vehicle theft is a significant problem for fleet managers – especially in vehicle rental, hire businesses or car clubs, where vehicles are routinely handed out to the public. Even where a crime has not been deliberately committed, many vehicles are not handed back on time. The implication is the same: some form of vehicle recovery may be required – and that vehicle recovery process begins with vehicle location. In short, if you don’t know where your vehicle is, you can’t get it back.

The solution is to ensure that all your vehicles are fitted with telematics-based tracking equipment. These devices fall into two broad categories: the self-installed, battery powered GPS tracker or the professionally fitted black box. Which one you choose will depend on many factors, including the nature of your business, the value, type and age of your vehicles and crucially, the way you will use the information provided by the devices. It is therefore important to understand the pros and cons for both, before selecting one of them for vehicle tracking and recovery purposes. Below, we look at each one in turn.


Professionally fitted black boxes


  • Of most importance, a professionally fitted black box can do more than vehicle security. They can deliver many more services than standard stolen vehicle recovery trackers, such as accident detection and usage, plus driving behavior – all based on your business use cases.
  • Because the data produced by these devices is richer and highly accurate, it can provide accurate recordings for use in the Insurance Claims Process. It can also alert you to any damage the vehicle sustains – light or severe – the moment it happens.
  • As well as informing you of the location of a stolen vehicle, a professionally fitted black box includes sensors that enable it to alert you if it has been tampered with – or if an attempt has been made to remove it. Attempts to remove the device are one of the strongest indicators that a missing vehicle has been stolen.
  • These devices can be installed covertly, which means they cannot be easily accessed, interfered with or removed by thieves
  • These tracking devices run on internal batteries that provide their own power for up to four days. This gives you valuable time to locate a missing vehicle that has been sitting idle, without the ignition turned on, following its disappearance.


  • The device is larger than a standard mini GPS tracker, which means you may need to think more carefully about where you install it, to ensure it remains undetectable.
  • Because the device requires professional installation, there will also be technical considerations (and some limitations) that govern where it can be installed – as well as higher installation costs.
  • Even if installed out of sight, this kind of vehicle tracking device could be found using signal detection technology.


GPS Trackers


  • These devices are designed specifically, and solely, for stolen vehicle recovery. They can therefore be ultra-covert. They are usually very small (about the size of an Apple Airpod case) and many are not detectable by signal detection technology when not powered on, making them the most covert vehicle security hardware on the market.
  • One of the most attractive features of GPS trackers is their plug-and-play technology, which means there is no need to integrate them with the vehicle’s electronics. You can fit them within minutes and begin using them immediately.
  • These GPS trackers can be affixed practically anywhere in a vehicle, either in view of the driver or completely out of sight – meaning you can also avoid installation costs in the process .
  • Because these GPS trackers are designed to run on their own batteries and draw no power from the vehicle, they can remain in operation for up to two years, regardless of whether the vehicle is actively driven.



  • Because these devices are designed specifically for stolen vehicle recovery, , they cannot be used to derive insights into driver behavior (e.g. vehicle usage, speed and impact detection).
  • These devices are incapable of issuing tamper alerts. This means you will not know if anyone has found or attempted to remove the device – and because they can be installed and removed so easily, they can even be fitted to another vehicle or disposed of.


The smartest solution is not always one or the other

Clearly, there are advantages and drawbacks to using either type of vehicle tracker. While they can each can be used effectively for vehicle recovery and repatriation, a combination of the two device types is often the best policy in some fleet scenarios. It is certainly common practice in high-end, luxury vehicles, where the cost of vehicle loss is very high and fleet owners demand the ultimate level of protection.

Ultimately, however, it comes down to the needs, use cases and resources of your business. By carefully evaluating your requirements in light of the above information, you can make an informed decision on the right solution for you.

To learn more about the different types of vehicle security device, download the IMS Vehicle Security Solution – Security Hardware Options data sheet:



About IMS

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:

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:

IMS Vehicle Security Solution data sheet: