How to minimise the risk of vehicle theft

January is the most common time for car crime.

Car thefts and incidents of vehicle crime increases throughout January to become the most dangerous month for offences. Winter car insurance scams such as frosting and keyless car thefts can be blamed for the seasonal rise.

Car crime soared in the opening month of the year as a total of 375,001 vehicle incidents were recorded in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019. January joins March, April, May and October as the top five worst months for vehicle crime but the opening month tops the list as the most prolific period.

A total of 11 percent of all vehicle crimes recorded in 2019 took place in January, according to UK police data analysed by Click4Reg.

Simple things such as removing any High Value Good from the vehicle – satnavs, money, phones, handbags or wallets will lower the chances of break ins. Here are three tips on how to further minimise the risk:

  1. Get your vehicles tracked

Installing a dash camera is a great deterrent these days as many use motion detection, or sleep mode recording.

With the advances in GPS technology we’re able to locate assets in more remote places such as container units, warehouses and in some cases underground car parks. Taking the advantage away from the thieves. Installing a recognised branded tracking unit can save you thousands on insurance and increase the chances of having the vehicle returned.

  1. Vehicle immobilisation 

Adding the extra option to have the vehicle remotely immobilized is a very wise choice, the user is able to text the tracker to shut off the power on the next engine off cycle, meaning the vehicle will no longer start up, until the user sends another code to re-engage on recovery of the asset. This will limit the distance the vehicle can travel after theft. Allowing the owner to set up recovery option with the local police.

  1. Jam your key signals 

Vehicles with keyless entry / ignition will benefit from owning an RFID pouch. RFID pouches use electromagnetic fields to stop incoming and outgoing frequencies that thieves would usually use to open and get away with your vehicle.

RFID pouches are available from Amazon UK from as little as £5.”

 

Stats source: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1224928/car-crime-january-vehicle-thefts-uk-thieves-criminals-regions-map

The Connected Car 2020

Our CEO Andrew Johnson was asked by Fleet World Magazine about his views on the the biggest Connected Car developments in 2020.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest connected car developments in 2020?

In short, more of the same. We have had connected cars at the top of manufacturers ranges for a while now. Tesla is at the pinnacle with high end manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes following their lead. The connectivity comes at various levels. Every Tesla is connected to Tesla HQ as is their Supercharger network. Over-the-air software updates and information about how many Superchargers are free on your journey are two advantages of this for the driver. This is mainly because a Tesla is as much a computer with wheels as it is a car. Jaguar Land Rover and others are still more car than PC today but all moving in the same direction. Electrification and subsequent connectivity back to the manufacturer will certainly become more mainstream. 

  1. Manufacturers are adopting voice-operated In-Car Assistants as standard fit in many cars. Do you think your products will integrate with these systems, or will there be problems? 

In car assistants are becoming more widespread across the manufacturers ranges also. The manufacturers will be highly protective of these systems and rightly paranoid about the potential for hacking them. As vehicles head towards autopilot-type functionality, these risks are concerning but will not stem the tide. Hence manufacturers will be slow to open up much if anything of these systems to third party integrators and we do not expect any outside of the largest of tech companies to get real access to real integration for the next few years.

  1. With 5G becoming more widespread, will you be able to offer more services at greater speed for clients?

5G is currently being rolled out though coverage is limited to large cities at present. There is still a lot of infrastructure to build to make this a reality throughout the country and many systems that use the technology will also be using 3G and 4G as a backup for the next few years. Eventually this will lead to faster systems and newly built vehicles will have a future-proofing feature in preparation for nationwide 5G coverage.

 

The challenge in the vehicle space is simply the mobility of the assets themselves. Whilst 5G coverage may quickly become widespread across London, even vehicles that commute into the surrounding counties will need tech that doesn’t exclusively rely on 5G to function. Equally, all this fast connectivity assists the manufacturers as much as the vehicle owners. Service warnings and fault identification will benefit the main dealerships over independent repair centres, for example.

Manufacturers will also quickly be able to track and monitor their vehicles after the sale. However, this will not help a fleet owner monitor a mixed fleet anytime soon. Nimble third-party companies are leading the charge to integrate camera/tracking systems to assist drivers. These too will adopt 5G and much R&D is quietly happening right now to stay ahead of the game for the consumer. When 5G arrives in your area, your camera systems at least will be ready.

Read the full article here.

“AI is the ‘new black'”

Simplytrak’s MD Ian Wood is featured in this month’s Fleet World Magazine. Read below what Ian has to say on the arrival of artificial intelligence in telematics solutions.

The phrases Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and algorithms are very often used interchangeably. However, it is important not to get caught up in the hype that often surrounds the adoption of new and existing technologies.

Different versions of the same tech

AI, ML and algorithms are all connected phrases but are in essence different versions of the same underlying tech. Whilst to the software and marketing teams this matters, to the end-user the focus should be only ever be on the suitability of the total solution provided to their business.

Algorithms can be very simple ‘if-then’ commands used throughout the software world and have been around a very long time. Awareness of them only became much more widespread as their use became more prominent when the likes of Google updates helped to create an entire industry designed around outsmarting the search engine giant.

All telematics hardware contains firmware which works on that very basis too. ‘If this panic button is pressed, activate this output’ is a perfect example. ’If this input becomes live, send an ‘ignition on’ message to the server’ being another.

Machine Learning on the other hand is often a collection of algorithms working together to perform a task or tasks without being programmed how to do so. This is more frequently used in data-mining telematics information to highlight inefficiencies in fleet use or bad driving behaviour/vehicle use.

AI is the ‘new black’

AI, however, is ‘the new black’. It differs from the above by its algorithms being able to cope with unstructured data and creating tasks essentially based on surprises. Whilst buzzy in terminology, in real terms it’s widespread use for our purposes is very limited at this time.

Business needs are individual and complex and telematics solutions should always have a focus on the end goal of increasing efficiency and safety in fleet use. The use of AI will happen soon enough. But for all the buzz, AI is still just a set of behind the scenes processes based on algorithms, data-collection and manipulation. The focus of the end user must remain on using telematics solutions to improve fleet and asset use and gain maximum efficiencies for safety and their bottom line.

Simplytrak are a no nonsense provider of advanced and often bespoke telematics solutions.

Simplytrak sponsors new Hull City striker

East Yorkshire-based vehicle tracking and camera telematics company Simplytrak announced its sponsorship for Hull City’s new striker Josh Magennis. His appointment was communicated by Hull City on transfer deadline day.

Magennis signs for the Tigers from League One side Bolton Wanderers on a two year deal. There is the option to add a third. The Northern Ireland international player scored seven goals in 44 games for Bolton last season having made a summer move from Charlton Athletic.

Simplytrak Limited is based in Market Weighton near Hull and offers fleet management and remote tracking solutions to its clients. The company is committed to support and promote regional activities and particularly its local football team.

Managing Director Ian Wood states: “We have a strong commitment to Hull City in our group of companies and are proud to be sponsoring the new striker. Josh is a promising addition to the squad. We are excited for the new Championship season and to see what he brings.”

The sponsorship will last for the current season 2019/20.

ULEZ | Geofence Zones | Simplytrak

Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force on 8 April 2019 and is likely to have a huge impact on drivers in London.

The ULEZ has been launched to help improve air quality in the capital by reducing the number of polluting cars driving in the zone.

Operating in the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge Zone, the ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Vehicles that don’t meet the ULEZ emissions standards will have to pay a daily charge to drive within the zone, on top of the congestion charge.

You can check your vehicle on the TfL online checker but generally the charges are:

  • £12.50 for most vehicles, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to 3.5 tonnes)
  • £100 for heavy vehicles, i.e. lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes)

Non-payment will result in a fine of £160.

Obviously, this is bound to have an impact on businesses and the cost of operating in and around London.

While the changes are likely to encourage businesses to consider upgrading their fleet in the long-term, right now they’ll be keen to monitor journeys in and around to ULEZ and only venturing into the zone if absolutely necessary.

Thanks to the geofencing feature available on the Simplytrak system, our customers have the ability to zone useful areas on their map and then set up reports and alerts to inform drivers when they breach a geofenced area.

With this feature, fleet managers are able to run a report at the end of each day to show which vehicles have been in the ULEZ and therefore arrange to pay the total daily charges for your fleet.

To make it even easier for our customers, we’ve already created geofences for the ULEZ and the wider Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

To apply this to your portal, please email enquiries@simplytrak.com or contact our customer support team on 01430 879197.

Exciting new appointment at Simplytrak

A growing customer base and new product developments have led to an expansion of the Simplytrak sales team with the appointment of Shaun Brennan as our new Business Development Manager.

Shaun joins the team from Wiltshire-based MAN Truck & Bus and brings with him a decade’s experience in the transport industry.

Speaking about the appointment, newly appointed Managing Director Ian Wood said:

“The growth of Simplytrak as we continue to develop and release new products and features has meant that we need to expand to build on the exceptional service levels that we offer to new and existing customers.

“Shaun’s appointment is vital to this and his experience will complement the great work that our team are already doing.”

Shaun added:

“I’m delighted to have joined a business that genuinely puts the customer first and I can’t wait to get out there and introduce myself to businesses and help them improve their fleet management activities.

“The new vehicle camera system that Simplytrak have developed recently is something I’m looking forward to talking to customers about. I’ve joined at a really good time to see the development of this product and can’t wait to show it off.”

If you think you could do with a visit from Shaun or to hear more about the Simplytrak cameras, drop him an email at shaun@simplytrak.com or call him on 07780 751845.

Simplytrak appoint new MD | Ian Wood | Vehicle tracking

Introducing Simplytrak’s new MD

With continued growth and plans for new products and features to be included in the Simplytrak system, we’re pleased to announce Ian Wood’s recent appointment to the role of Managing Director.

Ian, who has worked for Simplytrak as our Business Development Manager for the last four years, has a wealth of expertise in the vehicle tracking and fleet management industry and will be well-known amongst our customers.

Taking over the role of MD from Andrew Johnson, who will remain a key part of the business, Ian said:

“We’ve had some fantastic results over the last couple of years and the business has continued to grow both in terms of personnel and the products and features that we offer to customers.

“It’s definitely an exciting time to be taking over the role of MD. There are more plans to recruit so that we can continue to offer the same exceptional levels of service to our growing customer base that our existing customers are used to.”

On handing over the reins to Ian, Andrew said:

“We’re confident that the business is in safe hands with Ian as he’s already been a vital member of the senior management team for a number of years.

“The changes will allow myself and the other directors to focus on the long-term financial planning and growth of the wider group of companies, while handing over the day-to-day running of the company to Ian.”

Please join us in congratulating Ian on his promotion.

Driver behaviour – a vital tool for fleet managers

Our fully-featured driver behaviour module gives fleet managers complete visibility of their drivers and how they’re driving.

The Simplytrak driver behaviour solution allows businesses to quickly analyse and compare the driving behaviour of their employees. Excessive speeding and acceleration, harsh braking and cornering and periods of extreme idling are all reported in the Scorecard section of the system.

Reduce costs

Events like the ones reported in the scorecard are not just indicative of dangerous driving, they’re also contributing factors of increased fuel consumption and often a driver of higher maintenance costs.

The system will also highlight when a vehicle is left idling in real time. This could be if a driver is making a delivery or waiting to start a job. Vehicle idling can be costly not just for wasting fuel unnecessarily but vehicle theft commonly occurs when a driver has left a van running.

By monitoring driver behaviour, fleet managers can identify training requirements for areas for improvement and reduce costs by promoting safer and more economical driving.

Scorecard

The scorecard view lists all of your vehicles that are fitted with the Simplytrak tracking unit and allows you to track how each one is being driven in a league table view.

 

Each vehicle starts the day with 100 points. For each event trigger (details below), the driver is deducted three points (six points for a collision). The colour changes depending on the score: green (100-85 points); amber (84-70 points); and red (69-0 points).

Events

With the Simplytrak system, the tracking device installed in your vehicle detects driver behaviour events using GPS technology and triggers events based on thresholds programmed into the tracking unit. The default events and thresholds are:

Harsh braking: Triggered when the vehicle’s negative acceleration G-force is over 225mg for one second.
Harsh Acceleration: Triggered when the vehicle’s acceleration G-force is over 200mg for one second.
Harsh Cornering: Triggered when the vehicle’s centrifugal G-force is over 225mg for one second whilst the vehicle is over 40kph.
Excessive Idling: Triggered when the vehicle has not moved for five minutes whilst the ignition is on.
Excessive Speeding: Triggered when the vehicle exceeds 100 kph for ten seconds.
Collision: The vehicle impact state is triggered when impact is detected at a rate of 10,000mg.

Detailed view

If there is a particular driver that has triggered a number of events, you can view the detail behind each one by clicking on the event count. This will open a map in a new window with each event trigger plotted on the map.

This will help fleet managers understand a bit more about the circumstances of the event, for example idling could be explained if it occurred through roadworks or heavy traffic.

Driver safety

As well as the economical benefits, spotting behaviour events can help to keep your drivers safe. Our driving, like most things in life, can be affected by our mood. Multiple excessive speeding, harsh braking and harsh cornering events could be indicative of careless driving. With the live scorecard, the fleet manager could decide to contact a particular driver to better understand the situation.

Reputation

When they’re out on the road (presumably in a branded vehicle), your drivers are representing your company. So, if they’re driving badly, this could impact negatively on your business.

Likewise, many of our customers use the scorecard to reward calm, careful drivers. This encourages drivers to maintain good driving behaviour when out representing your brand.

For a full explanation of the driver behaviour scorecard, contact our customer services team on 01430 879197 or request a demo by filling in the form at simplytrak.com/contact

Vehicle tracking solution recovers stolen quad bikes

A Nottinghamshire-based dairy farmer has recovered two stolen vehicles thanks to an innovative vehicle tracking device that was installed in his quad bikes.

Two quad bikes used by Misson Organic Dairying Ltd were recovered after being stolen from the site early in the new year, thanks to an ingenious tracking system that alerted the owner to the theft by the motion detection feature.

Simplytrak, the East Yorkshire-based fleet management software company behind the device, are familiar with this method of vehicle recovery and specialise in helping their customers in similar situations. Ian Wood, Simplytrak’s new Managing Director, explains:

“Motion detection is one of the many options that come with our trackers and is becoming increasingly important for businesses who want to protect their vehicles.

“As well as detecting when the ignition is switched on and off, our trackers continue to track the location of a vehicle when the engine is off. This means we can still alert the owners when a vehicle is moving even if, like in this example, the vehicles are loaded onto a wagon and taken off site.”

On this occasion, the thieves thought they had done enough to disable the trackers by disconnecting them from the quad bike batteries, however, what they weren’t planning on was the emergency power supply that kept the trackers in full operational mode for long enough for the Misson Organic Dairying Ltd to spring into action.

Easy target

The quad bikes were leased from Richard Platt Farming, who supplies various vehicles to agriculture businesses. Mr Platt said:

“The agriculture industry uses a range of vehicles such as quad bikes, which are often seen as an easy target for thieves.

“That’s why I recommend that all the vehicles I supply have the Simplytrak system installed, complete with motion detection – offering customers peace of mind that they’re getting a secure vehicle to reduce the risk of business disruption.”

Joel Rathbone from Misson Organic Dairying Ltd added:

“We’re extremely grateful to Richard Platt and the team at Simplytrak for helping us use the system to its full potential to recover these vehicles. This is a busy time of year for us and all our vehicles are important to the running of the farm. We’d be lost without them.”

Following the theft, motion detection alerts have been set up in case the thieves come back and try again. During set times, if the vehicles move when the farm know they shouldn’t be moving, an SMS/email alert will be sent to Mr Rathbone at the farm so they can act quickly to keep tracks on them.

Rural crime stats

According to the Rural Crime Report 2018 from NFU Mutual, the cost of agricultural vehicle theft and quad/ATV theft last year was £5.9m and £2.3m respectively, meaning much needs to be done to tackle this increasing threat.

Effective vehicle tracking is just one of the ways in which farmers should be looking to protect their assets in 2019.

Practical Oldham

Immobilisation helps recover stolen vehicle

Vehicle immobilisation has been used to recover a second stolen van in the space of a few days.

A van hired from Practical Car and Van Rental Oldham, that had been fitted with a tracking device with an immobilisation feature from East Yorkshire based tracking company Simplytrak, was stolen on Saturday 1 December while being used for delivery duties in the Blackburn area.

The driver, who was delivering parcels on behalf of online retail giant Amazon, was dragged from the vehicle before the thieves drove away. Luckily, he didn’t suffer any injury as a result.

Immediately after receiving notification of the theft, Practical’s director Naz Akram called the Simplytrak customer helpline.

He said: “Fortunately, the van was fitted with a tracker which has the functionality to immobilise the vehicle once the engine is turned off. So, I called Simplytrak to inform them of the incident.

“The Simplytrak team were excellent and they started tracking the van, so we knew where it was and then remotely immobilised the vehicle, so we were able to recover it.”

Immobilisation works by remotely sending a signal to the tracking device, which is wired up to the vehicle’s electrical supply, enabling users to cut the power to the engine to prevent the ignition from being turned on.

Upon recovery of the vehicle, Mr Akram noticed that the interior light and roof lining had been ripped out. These are areas where some other models of vehicle trackers are often located.

Simplytrak’s business development manager, Ian Wood, explains why their trackers are harder to locate: “Vehicle thieves are getting wiser and they know that tracking devices are becoming more popular, particularly in larger fleets.

“This is why our trackers are carefully concealed in a way that makes them difficult to locate so we never lose track of our customers’ assets, which is so important when immobilising and safely recovering vehicles.”

This incident came just days after the Sheffield branch of the Practical franchise experienced a similar theft. But the Simplytrak immobilisation feature came to the rescue then as well.

Practical’s Mr Akram added: “There’s a strong partnership between Practical and Simplytrak and quite a lot of the franchisees use them for tracking.

“Occasions like this really show the value of the system but what’s impressed us the most is the customer service we’ve received from the team at Simplytrak. They helped us to immobilise and recover this van swiftly, even on a weekend.”