Recently, the Farmington Daily Times in New Mexico reported that an employee of a local greenhouse had allegedly stolen a company truck in May of 2017. The suspect, who was arrested on a previous and unrelated violation for fraudulent use of an illegally obtained credit card, was detained and transferred to the county jail on June 14, 2017, where he remains (at the time of this writing) incarcerated on a no-bond hold. Police were able to use the report of another greenhouse employee to find the truck five days after it went missing. They used tire impressions at the suspect’s residence to tie the theft back to the suspect.

The Cost of Commercial Vehicle Theft

While it is obviously particularly inadvisable to pinch a company vehicle, the crime still happens. Frequently. As a matter of fact, company asset theft seems to be on the rise. A 2015 CargoNet report estimated stolen commercial-vehicle cargo or equipment in the United States and Canada above 1,500 incidents, almost twice the number of commercial-vehicle cargo or equipment thefts in 2014. Total thefts in 2015 were valued at $175.3 million, and ten of the cargo thefts were worth more than $1 million each. 1

Recovered Vehicles Do Not Guarantee Recovered Costs

Even if a stolen fleet vehicle or company truck is recovered days or weeks later, fleet managers and company owners still have to worry about the possibility of damage inflicted upon the vehicle while out on its joy ride. It is not much of a stretch to presume that the perpetrator of commercial vehicle theft may also sometimes engage in vehicle vandalism (or reckless driving) while in possession of the victim-vehicle. Stolen equipment is also a concern even for recovered vehicles. Thank goodness that your $60,000 asset was recovered, right? But unfortunate that the $20,000 worth of equipment inside did not fare as well.

While theft of fleet vehicles and their contents cannot be entirely prevented, two dispatch-related activities may minimize the risk of theft and, in the event that commercial vehicle is lifted, curtail loss. These two activities, tracking vehicles real-time and creating a fleet “geofence,” can be executed with ease with a good telematics solution.

Telematics prevent theftReal-Time Vehicle Tracking

Fleet managers and dispatchers, in particular, have always enacted some sort of vehicle tracking. In decades past, tracking took place through the review of order documents, calls to and from dispatch, and reports from clients. While these methods were effective at confirming a driver’s presence at specific points in time, it was the hours in-between contacts that sometimes became problematic. Citizen’s Band radio came along and improved the back-and-forth between driver and dispatcher; however, reports via CB could not be verified. (Rarely do thieves report back to their dispatchers via CB that they are absconding with the company truck.) Additionally, CBs do not provide positioning reports. And sometimes, the perpetrator simply doesn’t reply when hailed by the dispatcher. Sure, the stolen vehicle may turn up, but it likely won’t be anytime soon when using only these tools. Plenty of time to thrash the cab and remove its most valuable contents.

GPS reporting, on the other hand, is immediate. GPS does not lie. GPS is objective. GPS presents the entire truth, and it cannot stretch the truth. It cannot change the story based on the situation.  It does not withhold information. And it makes truly real-time vehicle monitoring a very viable option for fleet managers. A GPS-based telematics solution is an essential weapon in a fleet manager’s security arsenal. Implementing a telematics solution that includes GPS tracking (such as TouchStar’s iTRACK) results in the most accurate accounts of your vehicles’ locations.

Geofencing

In addition to real-time tracking, the creation of a fleet “geofence” can do much to bolster the security disposition of any fleet. Simply speaking, a geofence is a geographic zone that dispatchers create on their fleet management map that monitors designated vehicles. A good geofence will alert the dispatcher in the event that a designated vehicle goes beyond the boundaries of a pre-set boundary. This not only protects company assets (so to speak), but also, the contents on board said assets. TouchStar’s iTRACK enables dispatchers to create such a perimiter, and it notifies dispatchers when the perimeter has been breached.

Additional Benefits of a Telematics Solution

TouchStar’s telematics solutions, iTRACK and intelTRACK, handle these two security activities and more. Both iTRACK and intelTRACK enable a company owner or fleet manager to review driver behaviors, such as speeding, harsh braking, excessive idle time, and dangerous activity, and they report these issues automatically. If a lapse in responsible driving is detected, drivers receive an audible alert, and the dispatcher is notified.

A solid telematics solution also delivers valuable customer service benefits as well. Real-time information provided by a robust telematics system enables dispatchers to communicate arrival times to clients with great precision and accuracy. Furthermore, dispatchers become an “eye in the sky,” empowered to direct drivers down efficient paths and the most direct routes to their destinations, even in locations riddled with construction and traffic lights. Without such a solution, drivers have only a small piece of the overall picture, aware only of what’s happening on the very street on which they are currently traveling.

Finally, when combining a telematics solution like iTRACK with an Android mobility app like TouchStar’s TransPac, dispatchers can also monitor product levels and deliveries on each vehicle in real time. Integrating TransPac into an existing telematics solution allows dispatchers and drivers to know the exact amount of product delivered to each client and the amount of product on each vehicle at all times. Drivers can also utilize TransPac to print invoices on-site.

From security improvements to driver performance enhancement, customer service insights, and inventory management, the incremental cost of a solid telematics solution that connects dispatcher and driver generates much more than an incremental boost to a fleet’s bottom line. You can find out more about feature-packed telematics solutions that fit your company budget at touchstargroup.com.

Want to read more about telematics and vehicle security?

1 – http://www.ttnews.com/articles/cargonet-reports-1500-commercial-cargo-and-vehicle-thefts-2015

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