When a Tracker is Pointless

Ever since the invention of radio, tracking has taken place in some form or other. From the early 'blips' that could provide the location of an object to the nearest 100 nautical miles, to James Bond's flashing red light and satisfying 'beep' and the latest GPS systems that control and track satellites to stop them falling on our head. But they all share a common need - to locate an asset and where possible, facilitate its recovery

What has changed is the number and sophistication of tracking solutions offered to the general public - and the confusion as to which one to choose has become a serious sport in its own right. Some believe the use of a hand-held or magnetic button that can be linked to a cellphone will meet their need to track their property when in fact, it is probably less effective and useful than the tracking pin inserted into your darling pet.

Then you get those that believe that special R50.00 purchase from their favourite accessory shop will help recover their property if stolen, and that 'magical' recovery teams will ride to the rescue. And then, there are tracker products that only react when you discover with horror that your asset has been removed in the deep of night and need you to push the alarm to start looking for your possession. This must surely top the 'must have' list. NOT!

In truth, there are only a few reasons for wanting to fit a tracker unit to your asset - whether its a motorcar, motorbike or your favourite sneakers. Firstly, it should provide a warning that your property is being tampered with or on the move without you; then it should provide a link to a recovery team that can follow and recover the asset before it is disassembled and distributed to the four corners of the earth and finally, it should provide a means to find YOU in the event of an accident or God-forbid, capture and abduction by Martians or people with bad-taste!

If your system doesn't do any or all of the above basic functions, chuck it out or prepare to lose your property. The facts are quite simple. Unless your tracker is linked to an early-warning, tracking, recovery and emergency response system, there is very little value in having it. And above all of this, unless it can do all of these things without you having to physically activate the process - well, what do you expect?

In this country, the motorcycle industry is world's behind international best-practice in this space. Other than for the very heavy American brand (which shall not be mentioned in jest), there are no bikes entering the market with pre-installed tracking and recovery systems of any use. Yes, you can't buy a bike without the ubiquitous and patently useless 'dot' system in this country, and it is left to owners of bikes to source a system that generally fails to hit the mark in any respect. Budget is always a consideration, and then the 'nice-to-have' factor kick's in, depending on the pretty pictures that are made on your smart-phone.

But is this necessarily the fault of the bike manufacturers and retailers or a symptom of a larger problem? That the insurance sector settles for the 'lowest-bidder' approach to asset recovery is without doubt a large part of the problem, but bike-owners themselves are to blame. They settle for the first thing that comes along - or a product that is shoved under their noses by bored or excited pre-pubescent salesmen who get the best commission rates selling products they wouldn't use on their own bikes. The efficacy of the tracker is seldom a consideration and decisions are made to meet the lowest expectations of their insurer.

We tend to rely on the theft-defying properties of ignition locks, heavy chains, pissy alarm systems and large dogs to protect our bikes, but as we have seen, none of these actually help either at home or on the road. In truth, if someone wants to steal your bike, there is very little you can do other than to make it as difficult as possible for them. Tracker systems offer a degree of difficulty in that they give the game away - after they have been told the bike is missing in most cases, but in themselves - without a sophisticated system to back them, they are really pointless.

The SAPS cant provide details on the number of bikes being stolen in South Africa each year - let alone the number of recovered bikes in cases of theft. And the simple reasons for this are (a) a lack of will to record bike numbers and (b) their inability to recover bikes because they really don't know where they are - or are too late to recover them in one piece. Insurance companies are no better at providing this data because this would blow their reasons for their ludicrous monthly fees for cover. Installing a reliable tracking system would go a long way towards addressing many of these problems - let alone make you sleep better.

So, before you go out to get a tracker, remember that just like men (or women) - not all are the same and very few offer the real solution to your need. If what you are looking for is a warm, fuzzy feeling then sure - grab the first thing that comes to mind knowing that it wont help. Or, settle on the best-fit in terms of purpose and know that your bike (in this case- forget the sneakers) is protected as well as you expect yourself to be.


About Guardian Angel

The Guardian Angel Motorcycle Safety and Security system is a locally developed motorcycle-specific response to the need for a tracker system that makes a difference. It is technologically advanced in comparison to what else is available and provides you with an early-warning alert the moment your bike is tampered with; an automatic theft detection alert that knows when your bike is being moved without the ignition key; a full and empowered tracking system that works across the region 24/7 through a national control room; and perhaps most importantly, a 'Biker Down' alert and emergency response system that speaks when you cant in the event of an accident or emergency situation.

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