generic photo of a person stealing a car
generic photo of a person stealing a car

Coast GPS tracking helps nab car thieves 3500km away

Car thieves caught just three hours after stealing a company car were no match for innovative GPS tracking developed by a Coast business.

The technology, developed by award-winning Sunshine Coast business The Fleet Office, has tracked down a group who allegedly stole a car belonging to Darwin-based community support organisation STEPS Group.

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The car was stolen on Sunday at 4am when intruders allegedly broke into the STEPS Group business development officer’s home and took the keys to the car before driving it around Palmerston.

Unbeknown to the thieves, their every move was being recorded by an in-built tracking device and custom-designed software.

The data was then relayed in real time to The Fleet Office’s headquarters nearly 3500km away on the Sunshine Coast.

Fleet Office Managing Director Jim Lee said every STEPS Group car across Australia was installed with the tracking device to ensure they could not only track the cars, but also provide comprehensive performance data on each car.

“The software in the STEPS vehicle enabled staff from The Fleet Office to assist Darwin police identify when the vehicle was stolen and map the route of the stolen vehicle,” he said.

“Within three hours of the alert being activated, the vehicle had been located and police were notified.

“Without this technology STEPS could still be in the dark to the whereabouts of the vehicle.”

STEPS Group Australia CEO Carmel Crouch said the tracking system had quickly proven its worth.

“When I was called at 7am, I quickly got onto The Fleet Office tracking system and found the vehicle sending off the address and the satellite photo of its location buried in the bushes,” she said.

“Our Darwin-based staff member had called the police and gave them the address and they found the car only minutes later.

“The police accessed the system so they could see where the perpetrators had gone and the addresses they had stopped while driving the vehicle which made it easier for them to find the perpetrators.”

Ms Crouch said the car had some damage to the panels and under the car as a result of driving it through the Palmerston scrub.

“Fortunately, they hadn’t stolen the laptop or our marketing material that was in the vehicle and as we are in the middle of a very expense 12-week program and it would have been very difficult to replace,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the car is off the road and that’s a cost for us but at least we have it back and still in one piece so we hope to have it repaired and back on the road soon.”

The matter is now with Darwin police who are investigating further.