Using Technology to Make Sure Your Car Doesn't Get Stolen or Your Dog Killed

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There are stories I come across sometimes that really tick me off, Last Friday, I heard one of those stories. While was over at Goody’s Speed Shop having my car’s performance checked (they have a Dynopack Dyno) and they had a ’65 Mustang that was in the process of being reassembled.    I asked about the car and they said it had been stolen but, through the magic of Social Media, they had gotten it back (along with all of the parts) in 24 hours.   The car had been stripped but it was recovered fast enough so that the thieves hadn’t finished or sold any of the parts yet.   The saddest part of the story is the thieves poisoned the owner’s dog in preparation for the theft and his canine companion for 11 years didn’t survive.  

In listening to the story, it was clear that a number of technology products in the market might have prevented the theft, made recovery even faster or prevented the death of the dog. I figured I’d share these in the hope that you won’t have to endure the same experience of the Mustang owner.  

The Theft

Apparently, the thieves came over night before they stole the car to poison the dog. Then, on the night of the theft, they broke into the car and attempted to start it.   The owner had disconnected the battery in a creative fashion so that this attempt resulted in the explosive destruction of one of the coils.   They then had to push the car out into the street and winch it onto a trailer doing significant damage to the car in the process (this was a show car).  

The Recovery

The morning following, the theft was discovered, and the police contacted.    They got pictures of the car up onto the social networks and went door to door with neighbors who had video cameras to see if they could get footage of the theft. Unfortunately, many of the cameras were fake or didn’t have recording capability. Thankfully, one did and that is how they found out how the car was stolen.   However it wasn’t until a neighbor of the thief called in to report he had seen the car arrive, that they got the break that recovered the car.   One of the thieves was caught at home but the others are still at large.    When they arrived with the police at the home they found the car stripped so thoroughly there were no wheels to roll it on.   So they reattached the necessary parts and pushed it out onto a trailer along with the stolen parts and are now rebuilding it in the off hours. 

Prevention

Prevention would have likely been the best way to go and just putting the car into the garage would have made a huge difference.   The car was wedged in pretty tight though and it took a ton of work to get it out of the driveway without waking someone up or doing more damage.   Video cameras (or the appearance of video cameras) and active security lights will generally scare burglars into going after someone else’s house. You can also use a silent paging alarm to let you know there is someone messing with your car.    A good car thief can disable a regular car alarm in a matter of seconds but may not realize a paging alarm is there and miss going after it.  

Having a video camera that actually records can get you the faces and perhaps even the license plates of the thieves. Products that just stream video are also great if you want to look outside your home without getting up or while you are away - but if they don’t capture the image so you will be out of luck when it comes to recovery.  

Mechanical security lights, such as those offered by NightWatcher, come with built in cameras that actually track people and are not only really cool, but they freak thieves out because they don’t know if there are cameras in them (some come with cameras).   The lights sense motion and location to fire up their spotlights and target the trespasser, they are also kind of handy if you want to see where you are walking and don’t want to light up the entire yard.    I have several of these myself and they are very effective. 

Once the car is stolen, a GPS tracker can come in handy. LoJack is one of the most common. I used to believe in OnStar as well until a friend had his truck stolen in San Diego and lost it in Mexico because the OnStar folks wouldn’t give him the location without a ton of paperwork and by the time the paperwork was done, the car had left the country.  

Wrapping Up: Protecting Your Dog

Dog killings are unfortunately very common in a burglary and if you thought losing your stuff upset you and your family, add to that the death of a beloved pet and you find a whole new level of ticked off.   A few years ago an acquaintance had her home burglarized and the burglars kicked her dog to death.   This is all to say that a dog isn’t a great burglar alarm and that the lives you save by using a more appropriate tools will do a great deal to keep your pet safe as well.  I’ve heard a number of stories about pet poisoning though and knowing the symptoms and what to do about them could make the difference between life and death. Here, the web is your friend and the poisons most often used by attackers are non-caustic (slipped into food) so it helps to hunt around online for a resource and recognize the symptoms.  

One final suggestion is to keep an eye on the list of most often stolen cars, if your car shows up on it; it may be time to get a new different car.    In any case if you have a car that someone might steal, keeping it safe may not just reduce your own pain, but protect the life of a beloved pet.  




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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