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MiX Telematics: Outsmarting criminals

Vehicle theft and hijackings, as well as the theft of cargo, are an ever-growing problem in South Africa. MiX Telematics has a solution.

Crime statistics, published in September 2015, revealed an alarming increase of 29% in reported truck hijackings over the past year.

The Road Freight Association published a report, in 2014, stating that truck hijackings cost companies and insurers more than one billion rands a year. The increase in incidents where signal jamming devices are used during vehicle and cargo theft is one of the prominent challenges that the South African transport industry is facing today. Any standard GSM and GPS telematics devices used to track vehicles and cargo may be susceptible to illegal signal jamming by criminals.

What is signal jamming?
A signal jammer prevents telematics devices from communicating their position to the vehicle tracking service provider. Criminals acquire illegal GSM and GPS jamming devices on the black market, which are then used in the hijacking of vehicles and trucks. These devices can be small hand-held units or large industrial briefcase-size jamming devices. Most jamming devices are simply plugged into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter jack-socket and then block all tracking signals. This results in the control centre losing contact with the vehicle. The vehicle tracking system merely shows the last position of the vehicle before the signal was lost.

Many different types of devices are susceptible to signal jamming, including smartphones, remote controls, and tracking devices. The signals these jamming devices emit on the GSM or GPS frequencies prevent tracking devices in the vehicle from receiving and transmitting messages, thereby blocking the positioning signal. The tracking device may be disabled without the driver even being.

Anti-jamming technology
MiX Telematics, a leading global provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions, has recently introduced a jamming detection solution to commercial fleets in South Africa. Combined with other services like Stolen Vehicle Recovery and the MiX Track and React Bureau Service, MiX Telematics offers a comprehensive transport solution to fleet owners to protect their assets and the cargo being transported.

The MiX Jamming Detect technology is combined with the state-of-the-art MiX Communicator fleet management onboard computer. It is an enhanced jamming mitigation solution to counteract the jamming of an on-board computer in a commercial vehicle. It enables proactive action to be taken if signal jamming is detected by the MiX Communicator, including:

• attempting to transmit a warning notification of an impending GSM jamming event, prior to complete jamming taking effect
• using one or more of its outputs to act as a deterrent
• utilising satellite communications or radio frequency to communicate the jamming event and assist with the recovery
• switching to another satellite network if one satellite positioning service is jammed.

Grant Fraser, product and marketing director at MiX Telematics, says, “This solution has already resulted in numerous successfully recovered vehicles, trailers, and cargos. In some cases, the criminals have also been arrested with the jamming devices in their possession.

“The Stolen Vehicle Recovery service offered by MiX Telematics has one of the highest recovery rates in the industry.”- Grant Fraser, MiX Telematics.

Telematics technology ensures full visibility of the entire fleet to allow for the early detection of potential theft and is one of the most important measures in combating crime. However, to realise the full benefits of a telematics fleet management system, drivers need to be proactively managed in real-time,” says Fraser.

Track and react
MiX Telematics offers additional services to reduce the risk of vehicle and cargo theft, and for the effective management of drivers. The Track and React Bureau Service, managed by Compass Fleet Management (a division of MiX Telematics), is a control centre dedicated to monitoring vehicles and drivers 24/7.

Specialised software is able to alert the highly trained agents of possible jamming when a vehicle stops sending updates. The agents have direct contact with drivers and fleet managers, ensuring that, should signal jamming be detected, immediate action can be taken to prevent any losses. In the event of a suspected hijacking, the recovery team is immediately dispatched to the exact location of the vehicle and the authorities are notified.

Ken Bailey, executive divisional director at Compass Fleet Management, talks about a recent successful recovery, “On the 14th of April at 02:01 AM, a client’s truck stopped transmitting its position on the R554 in the Brakpan area.

“The Track and React agent attempted to manually regain communication with the MiX Communicator installed in the truck and he attempted to contact the driver. However, his attempts were in vain; therefore, it was suspected that the vehicle was hijacked.

“The client was notified and the recovery was set into motion by the MiX Telematics recovery services. Together with the SAPS and Metro Police, the air and ground recovery team searched the area where the last signal was transmitted from. The truck and trailer were seen parked in front of a yard in Benoni from the helicopter, and a few minutes later the truck and trailer with the cargo were safely recovered.

“The police arrested eight suspects with a 12-antenna GPS/GSM jammer in their possession, as well as another stolen truck onto which the suspects were cross-loading the stolen cargo. Criminal charges were laid against all the suspects. This was the 11th successful recovery for the same client.”

MiX Telematics will continue to invest in technology to further refine anti-jamming countermeasures, to ensure that customers can effectively mitigate vehicle theft, increase safety levels and reduce risk.

For more information on any of the MiX Telematics solutions, email fleetsa@mixtelematics.com.

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