Locating A Stolen Car
The key question I suspect most people want answered is could the AirTag help track down a stolen car. Id give that a qualified yes.
Lets be clear about the AirTags limitations right up front. This is not a great device for live tracking. Dont think that if you see your car being stolen off the drive, youll be able to see a little dot moving across Apple Maps, plotting the cars live journey. Its not a GPS tracker and the updates provided from an AirTag are sporadic.
The AirTag works by connecting to nearby iPhones or iPads using ultra-wideband technology. That has a maximum range of about 30ft . The key thing is that the AirTag doesnt have to lock on to your iPhone to provide a location – it will latch onto any modern iPhone or iPad. If your car thief happens to have an iPhone on them, the updates might be regular. If not, you could be waiting ten minutes, half an hour or even hours between location updates, because it will need someone to pass close by with an iPhone/iPad.
This obviously means that the AirTag is a much better tracker in busy urban environments than it is in rural areas. If your stolen car is dumped down a quiet country lane or in the middle of nowhere, the chances of your AirTag locking onto a nearby iPhone are obviously greatly reduced.
The location of a parked vehicle is clearly marked
Onstar Tracks Your Car Even When You Cancel Service
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Navigation-and-emergency-services company OnStar is notifying its six million account holders that it will keep a complete accounting of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles, even for drivers who discontinue monthly service.
Adam Denison, a spokesman for the General Motors subsidiary, said OnStar does not currently sell customer data, but it reserves that right. He said both the new and old privacy policies allow OnStar to chronicle a vehicle’s every movement and its speed, though it’s not clear where that’s stated in the old policy.
“What’s changed you want to cancel your OnStar service, we are going to maintain a two-way connection to your vehicle unless the customer says otherwise,” Denison said in a telephone interview.
The privacy changes take effect in December, Denison said, adding that the policy reinforces the company’s right to sell anonymized data.
“We hear from organizations periodically requesting our information,” he said.
How Are Ford Cars Protected Against Theft
Ford vehicles are protected against theft through motion sensors with keyless entry cars.
Car thieves now use technological equipment like a relay box to steal cars. Rather than use key buttons for unlocking their cars, some vehicles use fobs. These fobs unlock the car once they are within a 2-mile radius.
To unlock cars like this, car thieves use a relay box to hack these fobs. They capture the signal from the key fob and trick the car into the opening. You can forestall such occurrences with motion sensors that put the fobs to sleep after 40 seconds of inactivity.
The fobs can only be reactivated when the driver moves toward his car with the fobs. Cars that use button keys are not prone to this attack.
Ford also has a lock mechanism called the Trade Vehicle Locks that reduce car thefts.
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Can You Track Your Own Car If Its Been Stolen
Right now, the best technology for tracking your car is called LowStar. Not only does this GPS tracking device allow law enforcement to accurately locate your vehicle, it can let you track the car yourself with your smartphone!
LowStar works intuitively, revealing the vehicles location on a map, and continuously updating its movements. You will still want to contact law enforcement, and still need to make a stolen vehicle report, but with this newer technology in your pocket, youll be able to specifically let the police know where your ride is, and where its going. Doing so will significantly speed up the recovery and return of your car, mitigating your need for alternative transportation, and in many cases letting you avoid that whole deductible question altogether.
See Car Gps History With Gps Logging
GPS Logging is a great feature of a tracking device that records or logs a cars route history including location, time, speed, and other data of the car at regular intervals, and stores it in its internal memory.
GPS Loggers are different from real-time GPS Trackers in that they do not transmit or receive the data via cellular signals. Think of it as a GPS Tracker that operates in stealth mode.
The data is saved to the device itself instead of being transmitted live . You can retrieve the logged data for review from your computer or mobile app.
Most GPS loggers make you retrieve the device and plug it in your computer to download the data.
There are very few that automatically upload the data when in range of your home Wi-Fi. For example, when your car pulls in the driveway, so there is no need to take it out of your car and then put it back later. Trakkit GPS does this.
Furthermore, since the data is not being transmitted live over the cellular network, there is no monthly service fee for the transmission of data.
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Helps Locate Stolen Vehicles
If you use LoJack as an example, a popular GPS tracking system used by many government agencies and trucking companies. They claim a recovery rate on stolen vehicles of 95%. Its also a common add-on sold at car dealers, usually with a cost of between $300-$700.
However, this cost includes a direct connection between law enforcement and LoJack. Using a self-bought GPS device, phone app, or a built-in tracking system likely isnt. Thankfully, if youre simply looking for a way to track your car via your phone, most options are either free or significantly less.
Helps You Stay Compliant
Catering to every government regulation is a big challenge for business owners. It becomes tougher when all the maintenance, vehicle, and driver data are in diverse spots or spread across different logbooks.
However, the use of GPS car tracking software allows you to generate reports on-the-go and stay compliant.
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Find Your Stolen Car With Vin If Your Car Is Stolen
When your car is stolen, you can locate and find your stolen vehicle with the VIN number.
A vehicle identification number is a unique code used by vehicle industry to identify individual motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, etc. You can track a stolen car online with the vehicle identification number.
VIN not only helps you check if your car is stolen but also plays an important role on locating and finding your stolen car.
How to Find & Locate Your Stolen Car with VIN: Step-by-Step Guide
- Go to AutoCheck, and purchase a vehicle history report. The cost of the report will be between $30 and $40.
- Enter your vehicle identification number and credit card details on the vehicle history report search screen. You will see a chronological history of the places where your car was registered, titled and serviced. The last known registration or service should be the most recent location of your stolen vehicle. Thus you can narrow down the search range when your car is stolen, and get your car back fast.
- Contact the Police. They will help you trace down your stolen vehicle with the information you provide.
Contact Your Insurance Company When Your Car Is Stolen
Also contact your insurance company when your car gets stolen. If your car is stolen while running comprehensive insurance, you can get the car stolen insurance payout from the insurance company.
If you recover your stolen car after getting the insurance claim, call your insurance company. Please note that the recovered car now belongs to the insurance company. If you want, you can buy the recovered car back from the company staff.
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Ways To Tell If Your Car Is Being Tracked & What To Do
GPS trackers for vehicles are small devices that make use of the combined technology of global positioning system and cellular networks to determine and monitor the location of a vehicle in real time. Not all GPS vehicle trackers are meant to be hidden, but a lot of them are small and lightweight enough that they can easily be overlooked by the unsuspecting and untrained eye. In fact, many of these devices tend to be smaller than a deck of cards. Their small size and portability easily gives them the function of being used as a tool for spying on people.
Like how it is with other products of technology, GPS trackers can be used for both legitimate and not-so legitimate purposes. With that said, even law enforcement agencies and private investigators have seen the advantage of using such devices in their own line of work, provided that they get the appropriate warrant first.
Its not just police officers and private investigators who take advantage of the many benefits of GPS tracking devices as even ordinary people as well as company owners and managers use such devices for a number of reasons, although most of these reasons dont call for keeping the device hidden.
Common Uses of GPS Car Trackers
- Fleet Management Many owners and managers of companies who operate a fleet of vehicles make use of GPS trackers in order to track the location of their vehicular assets in real time and to monitor the driving behavior of their employees in the field.
How Do Gps Tracking Devices Work
Just like their names suggest, GPS devices work with the network of satellites making up the Global Positioning System. A GPS device sending and receiving signals from these satellites can be located virtually anywhere in the world to precise geographic coordinates, usually within fifteen feet!
Hidden within the inner structure of your vehicle, a GPS tracking device may be located after the car is stolen, enabling law enforcement to track the vehicle and its movements in real time! Better yet, unlike the previous iteration of car tracking devices, such as LoJack, the police wont need to devote extra resources to triangulate the stolen cars signal. Technology does most of the work.
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Track Your Car And Your Teen Driver
Overprotective and worried parents can put their minds at ease with a GPS tracker. With the right device installed in a teenagers car, they can monitor his or her locations in real-time.
There are some Phone Apps that may help you track a car, but they will quickly use the battery on your phone. See our related article.
Inform Your Leasing Company If Your Rented Car Is Stolen
If your stolen car is rented, contact the leasing company after you find the vehicle is missing. Inform them that youve already reported the stolen car to the police and ask for the cars identification numbers and tag.
Also, remember to request an incident form from the rental company and review the contract terms about the liability insurance you have chosen. If you have bought full coverage from the car leasing company, you will be covered if the car is stolen, supposing that you were complying with the contract at the time of the theft.
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About Our Trusted Experts
Gannon Burgett is a photojournalist and sports photographer who has contributed to Lifewire since 2018. He tested several of the car GPS trackers on our list.
Taylor Clemons is an expert on gaming hardware and other consumer technology, such as car GPS trackers. She has covered these fields on various websites for more than three years.
Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
How To Find If Your Car Has A Tracker On It
There is a chance someone is spying on you and has put a tracker on your car.
Trackers are minuscule devices that use GPS to track a cars location. Most are tiny, susceptible to abuse, and can seem invisible to the laymans eye. Thats why you need help to find them.
These devices do not just track location, they also register and store information on a hosts location. So, if someone tracks you, hell know your route, your previous and present locations, and even your average driving speed.
For your security and privacy, youll want to get them out.
There are some tools youll need if you have any suspicions that someone is tracking your car.
These tools include:
- A flashlight to locate the tracking device easily in dark spaces
- Mechanics mirror
- A mat so you have something to lie on when you check under your car. If you still dont find the tracker using these tools, try bug detectors.
There are almost unlimited places to hide trackers in a car.
However, they are often placed in these parts:
- In the trunk
- Inside the wheels
- Under the car
- Some trackers only function when a car is moving, so bug detectors wont work for such trackers.
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Why Use A Hidden Gps Tracker
Like many other forms of technology, GPS trackers have both legitimate and less savory uses. Law enforcement agencies often use these devices, with an appropriate warrant, as do private investigators.
There are also a number of reasons that vehicle owners might want to use one of the best car GPS trackers, although most of them don’t call for hiding the device.
Common uses for GPS car trackers include:
- Fleet management
- Keeping tabs on your minor teen
- Helping you find where you parked
- Theft recovery
GPS trackers designed for use in cars can be found in big box stores like Walmart, electronics stores like Best Buy, and specialty stores that cater to private investigators. They can also be purchased online at most any retailer that deals in electronics like GPS devices and surveillance equipment.
Regular Gps Car Trackers
Of course, I have to mention that using GPS trackers is the mosteffective way to secure your cars location. Most people would rely oninsurance in case of theft, but insurance companies dont always cover that.So, in essence, youre the only oneresponsible for not securing your car correctly.
It would be best for you to buy a GPS car tracker that enables users to track their cars from their mobile phones. In case you want a budget-friendly solution, though, there is a crafty way to use your phone as a GPS.
GPS Phone Tracking
If you have an extra smartphone within reach, download one ofthe many free phone GPS trackers. Then, all you have to do is leave the phone in the car.
Keep in mind that the location on the phone must be turned on for this method to work, and dontforget to hide the phone well. Its unlikely that the car thief will stumbleupon it if you hide it underneath thedrivers seat or somewhere deep in the trunk of the car.
The only downfall of this method is that it works as long as thelocation is on. However, there are waysto track cellular signals even when the location is off.
Cell Phone Signal Tracking
If you lose your phone or someone steals it, you can contact thepolice to track the phones location. The police can then get in touch with the cell phone company to learn moreabout the phones recent activity.
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My Car Gps Tracker Says Its Moving When Its Not Why Is This Happening
When youre in an area with a lot of buildings, your GPS trackers signal can bounce off different surfaces and cause false alerts. It can be annoying and worrisome to get an alert in the middle of the night telling you your car has moved from the garage, but its not uncommon for this to happen with GPS trackers.
If the alert shows that the car has just moved a short distance, like down the street, its usually a false alarm.
How To Check Your Car For A Gps Tracker
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It used to be that only the CIA, James Bond and Spider-Man had the technology necessary to attach a tracking device to a vehicle and keep tabs on it wherever it goes. But now that GPS trackers are cheaper than TV sets, everyone from local police to car-rental companies are getting into the act. And with the Barack Obama administration urging the Supreme Court to allow warrantless GPS tracking, the number of vehicles trundling around with tracking devices attached might be getting a lot higher soon. Is your car one of them? We’ll show you how to find out.
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Where To Buy A Gps Tracker For Your Car
You can buy cool vehicle tracking devices in Big Box stores, or online from the vendors that deal with electronic items.
Since GPS location data gets transmitted in real-time over a cellular network, the live tracker has a monthly service fee.
Wouldnt it be nice if there were no monthly fees, and you could have 10 GPS trackers for your belongings i.e. one for each car, one for each bike, kids backpack, etc.