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Some thoughts on Mototracker – GPS bike tracking security

I was reading a very positive review of the MotoTracker bike security system so visited the website (www.demonskinz.moonfruit.co.uk/ – they could do with getting a proper domain) and saw this:

“We will supply the unit with a SIM card, set up, tested and ready to use for £20.”

I thought “WOW, that’s a bargain – other tracking systems are hundreds of ££s!!”

Unfortunately, it was a “too good to be true” moment… turns out that £20 buys you ONLY the SIM and you also need to purchase the tracker itself which is £150, plus P&P. Ah well, at least once purchased, it doesn’t require an expensive annual subscription renewal.

Although the unit itself is small (matchbox sized) and has an internal power supply, it seems to need a 12v external power supply for any prolonged use, and that means tapping into the bike’s battery and hiding a second, slightly bulkier box. Anyway, it got a fairly glowing review based on the fact that the unit, once installed, can send text messages to another phone reporting where it is by using GPS coordinates.

In theory, that allows the owner to call the police and tell them where to find the bike. Two problems.

The first is “we haven’t got the manpower, guv’nor”. Report a stolen vehicle and the chances are you’ll get a bored plod on the end of the phone taking down endless details about where and when it was, whilst being totally uninterested as you try to tell them exactly where the bike is now. Unless there’s been a major sea-change in the way the police treat stolen vehicles, there’s a fair chance recovery will be down to you anyway, as happened to my brother when he had a bike stolen. The police phoned up and told him where it was, but by the time we arrived it . What if you’re hundreds of miles away? What if it’s locked in a garage? What if the thief has more mates than you do? I’d be very cautious about trying to recover a bike myself.

The second is that whilst technology like this might defeat the 16 year old scrote with the boltcroppers who wheels your pride and joy round the corner to his lockup, I can’t see it fooling a professional thief for more than a couple of seconds.

Let’s be honest, if you’ve got a expensive machine that’s seriously attractive to thieves, the chances are they’ll be pros, they’ll know exactly what to look for, and they’ll come equipped to deal with it. If they can tackle the bike in situ (for example, in the privacy of your own garage) they’ll have the seat up in double-quick time looking for GPS trackers and the like, and a couple of spare wires connected to the battery terminals and disappearing out of sight would be a bit of a giveaway.

And if they have to move the bike straight away, there’s a good chance they’ll be using something that impedes a GPS signal – just do a Google on jamming a GPS, it’s not difficult. Even inside a car with windows, it’s not always possible to get a clear fix and brick walls often block a GPS completely so if it’s been trucked away to a garage and the signal’s lost so is your bike. You may be lucky and get a trace all the way there – but you might not be.

So, is it worth the money? It’s hard to say. If you’ve got an expensive bike that’s heavily targeted by thieves, then it’s probably worth a shot as an add-on to your other security but does it guarantee it’ll be tracked or recovered by the police? Hmmm.

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