Tuesday 12 December 2017

Car theft 'set to become a thing of the past'

A fatal tragedy involving a stolen car inspired a Wicklow-based inventor to try and prevent it from ever happening again.

HALT: Stephen Kehoe has designed a new anti-theft product
HALT: Stephen Kehoe has designed a new anti-theft product

Tom Prendeville

Most cars today have a high-tech car alarm system. However, despite the sophistication of modern alarms, thieves often manage to steal the vehicle.

Stephen Kehoe, who worked in security for many years, has created a technology that is the ultimate car thief's nightmare and aims to make car theft a thing of the past.

TracknStop, which is a patented technology, is a marriage between tamper-proof under-the-bonnet hardware, GPS satellite technology and a phone app and allows you to stop a stolen car dead in its tracks anywhere in the world and locate the vehicle to within 12 inches.

Car owners no longer need to panic if their car is pinched; they can simply switch on their phone, which will tell them exactly where it is and press 'Stop' to immobilise the vehicle. Once the car is retrieved; the gardai or owner can remotely reactivate the engine once again. The system also has another novel feature: if the car is travelling to places the owner would not normally drive to, the system will automatically notify him that there is something suspicious afoot.

Not surprisingly, Kehoe's, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow-based company, TracknStop Ltd, has attracted huge interest internationally. The firm is now planning to roll-out the technology worldwide:

Kehoe explains what inspired him to create the technology: "Several years ago there was a terrible tragedy involving a suicidal driver in a stolen vehicle, who wiped out an Irish family. I thought about all those innocent people, and as a family man it affected me - it's as simple as that.

"It inspired me to do something to try and stop it happening again; so I wrote down the idea at about three in the morning. Since then, me and my business partners, Michael Doherty and John Mullins, have put about half a million into the project.

"This new technology means that the power is always in your hands and never in the criminals. Not only that, but TracknStop allows you to customise and design your very own 'geo-fences.' These 'geo-fences' are your regular travel zones and indicate the geographical areas you typically travel in. Whenever your vehicle strays beyond these zones, you will receive an instant notification on your Smartphone or tablet."

Car theft statistics make for sobering reading: in Europe alone over 1.2 million cars are stolen every year, with a similar figure for the US. In Ireland, the yearly average is around the 8,000 mark, while in the UK it is a staggering 350,000 cars.

In the UK - and presumably Ireland - the majority of cars reported stolen are never retrieved. Increasingly professional criminal gangs purposely target high-end models and luxury brands and ship them abroad for resale:

After the TracknStop, the crime gangs may have to change their business model.

Sunday Indo Business

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