The benefits of IoT for stolen vehicle recovery

Nicolas Andrieu

By Nicolas Andrieu, SVP EMEA at Sigfox

While there is a sharp increase in the use of motor vehicles, by individuals and businesses, the theft rate also continues to grow steadily, pushing car manufacturers to use new technologies. in order to protect their vehicles. Although the owner of the vehicle is the first to be impacted by theft, insurance companies and manufacturers are not spared as the former suffer financial losses, while the reputation of the latter can be called into question.

Currently, around 3.5 million vehicles are stolen worldwide each year, including 700,000 in Europe. In 2020, 121,500 vehicles were stolen in France, which represents an average of one vehicle theft every four minutes. Although the number fell 13% in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Coyote Secure Flight Observatory 2021, the value of stolen vehicles is estimated to be around € 1 billion in France alone.

Despite the efforts of manufacturers to improve the safety of their vehicles, thefts remain very frequent. In addition, the methods used for car theft are becoming more and more sophisticated and are even capable of bypassing anti-theft devices. Hence, the stolen vehicle recovery market is expected to grow 5-6% by 2023.

Stolen vehicle recovery

Today, 85% of thefts are carried out using electronic devices. For thieves, cellular anti-theft solutions, connected to the central control, offer an opportunity to quickly find and disconnect the device, thus reducing the chances of the vehicle being found. This method, known as “mouse jacking”, can be used by anyone with a wave jammer, an inexpensive tool that can be purchased on the internet and leaves no trace of tampering. The proof is that in France, 80% of stolen vehicles incorporated an anti-theft device.

When owners notice their cars missing, it is often too late since only one in five cars is found. Even when the car is found, insurance may refuse to compensate the victim if there is no sign of the break-in. Finally, the recovery process is often very long and gives thieves enough time to dismantle the stolen vehicles or send them halfway around the world.

Although countermeasures exist, they are often costly to set up and maintain. Indeed, the stolen vehicle recovery market may turn to security systems such as biometric technology, radio frequency identification and ultrasonic sensors. However, their cost, the potential failure of electronic components, and the time required for installation are factors that could slow the market growth globally and become barriers to the adoption of the technology.

In this context, companies working in the recovery of stolen vehicles face many challenges but also increased competition and therefore seek technological alternatives capable of providing the same security as a private network (resistant to interference ) and the same level of service, at a lower price.

Use IoT to facilitate the recovery of stolen vehicles and reduce costs.

Unlike cellular and Bluetooth networks, IoT networks are able to meet three essential prerequisites to facilitate the recovery of stolen vehicles.

Since IoT devices require very little power consumption, battery costs are also reduced, thus lowering overall hardware costs. The battery consumption of an IoT device can also be accurately calculated and monitored – this critical information reduces high maintenance costs and the need to replace the device when it is not necessarily needed.

Unlike traditional security systems, IoT devices are small enough to be concealed inside a vehicle but are also quick and easy to install. In addition, IoT-based solutions provide a device based on long-life batteries that can be placed in multiple locations in the vehicle, making detection more complex for thieves.

One of the other advantages of IoT devices is that they are able to retrieve messages from very weak signals and over long distances, while other technologies are affected by jamming, strong interference, or noise. absence of network in underground places. This is crucial when we know that 43% of stolen vehicles are hidden in closed or underground places. In France, this practice almost doubled between 2017 and 2020.

Today, IoT solution providers have developed geolocation capabilities based on network triangulation, which can provide an estimate of the location of the stolen vehicle. The network provider regularly receives data from the car and as soon as an attempt at jamming is detected, the device goes into “recovery mode”. This means that the network will estimate the location of the vehicle for each message received, thus allowing the security company to send its closest team. Therefore, even if a jammer tries to block the signal, stolen vehicle recovery companies can check whether the vehicle is moving from one place to another, or in what area it is parked.

Similar IoT solutions can be used to prevent theft in different industries such as logistics which has faced an increase in cargo theft globally, with around € 1 billion in goods stolen each year. In this context, solutions to protect freight transport assets become necessary, and IoT-based asset tracking solutions offer a new way to secure goods at a reasonable price.

As the demand for stolen vehicle recovery and asset tracking solutions grows rapidly, stakeholders must find reliable, easy-to-install, and cost-effective solutions to meet their customers’ needs. Although several options are available, IoT-based solutions are currently the most able to meet all the prerequisites and best help victims, authorities and insurance companies when a car or cargo is stolen.