World News: Car thieves exploit GPS info

World News:  Car thieves exploit GPS info

Society’s low life strike another blow against decent people …

South Africa’s ADT Security has issued an alert to all owners of satellite navigation systems not to plot or program their home address into their devices.

ADT says that car hijackers have figured out that they can select or type in the word “home”, and the GPS device will lead them directly to your house.

If you walked away from the hijacking empty handed, which is infinitely preferable to the other option of being shot or stabbed to death, the hijackers probably have your house keys as well, and what’s more they know you’re not home.

Personally, I don't believe this "GPS go home" story has actually happened, although it’s only a matter of time …

Altech Netstar’s divisional manager of operations, Dave Shipton, said that BBC Prime recently broadcast a program in which a person acting as a valet parking attendant took a vehicle from an unsuspecting driver and used the GPS device to drive to the owner’s home. This was also mentioned on a local radio station yesterday.

Talk about planting the seed of a lucrative idea in the criminals’ heads.

To date, Netstar hasn’t encountered any such incidents, and Shipton says that driving a hijacked car to a victim’s home is in direct conflict with known hijacker strategy, which is to escape with the vehicle as quickly as possible.

However, he concedes that some hijackers may be interested in more than the vehicle, in which case this alert from ADT is most useful. “We believe that one’s best defence is awareness,” says Shipton.

Blue Security’s Gary Tintinger says they have no record of this happening to any of their clients either, although such a thing is feasible. But he points out that, particularly in South Africa, a car’s registration number is enough information to get the address details from a corrupt licensing department official.

South African criminals are becoming more brazen, more desperate, and more inventive. To survive in this country, you have to start thinking like a criminal in order to outwit them.

Anyone who leaves his home address lying around in his car is a fool, whether it’s on an item of mail, a membership card, or a GPS device.

ADT advises owners to activate the lockout or security feature of their GPS systems, which will help prevent anyone else from operating them. This means that when you switch off your car your GPS system will also shut down, and when the vehicle is restarted and the GPS system is reactivated, a pin or code is required.

This doesn’t help if you’re relieved of your vehicle at gunpoint while the engine is running, so if you’re too absent-minded to remember where you live, ADT suggests that you program a nearby landmark, like your local shopping centre or garage, as the destination, instead of your residential address.

Provide a post office box address instead of a residential address when you register your vehicle, and if your house keys get stolen with the car, change your locks.

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