Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Here's where we keep the polls, and anyone can start a poll!

Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby TimC » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:01 am

Three years ago Ron Dickey posted a poll here about trailer security. I found the responses very interesting. I've hit a dead end for insurance for my homemade trailer, so, with technology improving quickly and options for trackers growing I'm wondering what direction folks are going in terms of installing trackers on their teardrops. I'm new to this tracker world, so, I hope to get some idea what works for you and what doesn't. The GPS tracker I found, and have yet to purchase, is about 50 bucks shipped and $15/month (with discounts per month if you sign on for 12 mths). I can cancel and re-up the subscription with a $25 fee. Sounds reasonable to me. It uses 3G and 4g cell signals to communicate only when the tracker is moved. I'm aware of dead zones. Hell, I'm surrounded by them in N. Wisconsin and the UP. Eventually, even in dead zones, as this one can easily be hard wired into 12v systems it will be able to communicate indefinitely.

I don't live in a high crime area. I just like the idea in case I go for a hike somewhere and come back to no trailer. Then there is the chance someone just destroys the teardrop...
Last edited by TimC on Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Tim
Niagara, WI
My First Teardrop Build Thread - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=63575
My Second Teardrop Build Thread - Started August '16 - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=66939
User avatar
TimC
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 402
Images: 224
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:15 am

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby GTS225 » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:18 am

While I agree with your thoughts in premise, I have mixed feelings about investing in one.

You see, while we have the technology to install a unit, and even track it in real time, we have the huge stumbling block that law enforcement doesn't invest much, if any energy in the pursuit of finding your property. Apparently, it "costs too much in money and manpower" to actually enforce all the laws that they promised to enforce, thus "property crimes' get shoved onto a back burner, if not right off the stove.

It hardly benefits one to invest in the tech, if one can't rely on law enforcement to retrieve your property and arrest the thief. At best, you would have to track down your property, then notify the authorities, and hope they respond. You are not at liberty to take action on your own, as then you are the lawbreaker.

I'll stop now, as my comments are sliding toward a political leaning.

Roger
GTS225
Teardrop Master
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:11 am
Location: Waterloo, Iowa

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby absolutsnwbrdr » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:52 pm

GTS225 wrote:While I agree with your thoughts in premise, I have mixed feelings about investing in one.

You see, while we have the technology to install a unit, and even track it in real time, we have the huge stumbling block that law enforcement doesn't invest much, if any energy in the pursuit of finding your property. Apparently, it "costs too much in money and manpower" to actually enforce all the laws that they promised to enforce, thus "property crimes' get shoved onto a back burner, if not right off the stove.

It hardly benefits one to invest in the tech, if one can't rely on law enforcement to retrieve your property and arrest the thief. At best, you would have to track down your property, then notify the authorities, and hope they respond. You are not at liberty to take action on your own, as then you are the lawbreaker.

I'll stop now, as my comments are sliding toward a political leaning.

Roger


The 'costs too much time and manpower' excuse is usually because they have zero information to go on. However, if you provide them with real-time tracking data, you've just made their job a lost easier and they're more likely to act.

I'll be interested to see if anyone has any newer information on the tracking devices. Some of the ones that people have used in the past are limited range Bluetooth (i.e. Tile) and rely on crowdsourcing, and others are more expensive and require mobile network access with monthly fees.
Zach

ImageImageImage
User avatar
absolutsnwbrdr
Donating Member
 
Posts: 2654
Images: 410
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:10 pm
Location: Hanover, PA
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby TimC » Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:14 pm

I agree with you Zach. I don't expect law enforcement to go off wasting time looking for my home built trailer, but, I do think they would respond if I had reliable information that my stolen property is located at a specific place and can verify every 24 hours that it hasn't moved, or, every ten minutes while it is moving. I've experienced the shrug by police in the past. In their position they are not emotionally attached to my property someone robbed from me. That's perfectly understandable.

I'm not fond of the monthly subscription service. A service that only tracked an item and communicated with me after I reported it stolen might open up all kinds of fraudulent activity and claims. When there is no chance of insuring my TD I look at the $130ish cost per year (seven months subscription +$25 re-up fee) as reasonable. It at least offers me some comfort of knowing I can chase those creeps down (from a distance of course :thinking: ).

Tim
Tim
Niagara, WI
My First Teardrop Build Thread - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=63575
My Second Teardrop Build Thread - Started August '16 - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=66939
User avatar
TimC
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 402
Images: 224
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:15 am
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby Squigie » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:09 pm

I'm active in the classic car world, if you couldn't tell by the family cruiser in my profile pic - where security, theft, and tracking are frequent subjects of concern and discussion. There are many options that cross over to trailers.

I am not an expert, but I've spent many years absorbing feedback from the guys that have used all of these systems; and think I can give an overview.

Just a quick run-down of the general consensus for vehicles that can drive themselves away, and don't even need to be towed (generally - even though the easiest and often quickest way to steal a hot rod is with a flat-bed tow truck):

There are "active" measures and "passive" measures. I'll hit passive last. There's only one that's fairly 'universal'.

Recovery: As mentioned, cops don't have time to look for your property if it just "disappears". ...Unless it is EXTREMELY unique and identifiable - like a fluorescent pink teardrop trailer with a bright yellow banana on the side. Then they'll keep an eye out, while addressing more important matters (like the 14 year-old girl that was just found in an alley, beaten and raped).
They do, however, LOVE catching bad guys in possession of stolen property and/or commission of the crime. Having live tracking data turns a stolen vehicle (whether a '54 Ford Victoria or teardrop trailer) into an item worth pursuing.

Trackers:
Lo-Jack.
If you frequent areas where law enforcement is equipped with Lo-Jack equipment, it is the best option. It has the highest recovery rate, because it's more than just some GPS coordinates that show where the car was somewhere between 90 seconds and 25 minutes ago. Their data is as close to live as it gets. Lo-Jack can also do close-proximity directional locating on the ground. ...And the places that are equipped for it are used to using the equipment. They love it.

Lo-Jack isn't everywhere.
Subscription-based trackers (other than Lo-Jack) get a lot of talk and a lot of trials. However, people that have used them - even if a vehicle was stolen and successfully recovered - frequently suggest the oft-overlooked alternative that's next. Recovery rates are getting lower every year, as most car thieves know to take the vehicle to a semi-secure location away from the theft, disconnect the battery, and look for a tracker that needs to be ripped out, before continuing on down the road; while more and more are using 'grey market' devices to just jam the GPS signal (so that the device can still transmit until its killed, but it doesn't know where it is).

A cell phone.
In today's world, one of the most affordable alternatives to subscription services is a pre-paid cellphone with an app that can send live tracking data to another phone number, or allow tracking on the internet. - Or even a security app that allows commands to be sent remotely to also enable the microphone, take photos, etc.
GPS jammers will render a phone obsolete, too. But I wouldn't expect one to be used for "low end" trailer theft.

Some guys in the car world treat them like hidden trackers. They hide the phone in a secure mount, with a charging cord attached so it won't unplug, with a dedicated backup battery that's also hidden somewhere near the phone; so the chance of recovery is extended if the primary vehicle battery is disconnected or drained. There's a fellow Nova guy that has a phone hidden behind the instrument cluster, with a peep hole through the clock. Aside from tracking the car, it takes a photo of the driver and sends that photo and GPS coordinates to the owner any time the car moves more than 300 feet from "home", or is already away from "home".
(He has a HUGE collection of pictures of himself driving his car. :R )

Most guys, however, keep their cars locked in garages most of the time and don't want to be bothered to keep up with a hidden cellphone.
So, they just keep the phone on a charger in the house or garage, and toss it in the car before they drive away. Popular hiding spots are under spare tires, under seats, or even just under a floor mat or trunk carpet; aside from vehicle-specific nooks and crannies that work well (like the crack known as the "trunk drop-off" next to the fenders, or on top of the glove box, in '68-'79 Novas).
This gives potentially a few days worth of tracking for recovery.

The groups that I'm associated with represent about 1,800 cars, or so. We've had six (reported) vehicles with trackers stolen in the last two years. Four were recovered with cellphone tracking. One was recovered with a subscription service. The last one was chopped beyond belief before police got to the location (but the tracker did work).


Passive:
Chains. Beefy, expensive chains. And good locks.
Chains that can't be cut with hand tools, and take time to grind, are a good deterrent. Equally good locks are important.
None of the paranoid classic car guys that I associate with, that use high end chain to lock up our car(s), has had one stolen - even if it was broken into and someone was clearly looking to take it.

I didn't even bother insuring my tent trailer. I use a 20' section of 1/2" grade 100 lifting chain and a good (expensive!) lock, to lock up my trailers (plus double coupler locks). It cost me about $300 for the chain and lock, but I think the expense was worth it.
When there's a vehicle, another trailer, or tree to lock to, I just run the chain through the trailer's frame. Simple, easy, and quick. If there's nothing to lock it to, I run through both wheels with a loop around the axle. If someone tries to take it, they're going to have to drag it -- even if they were to put another set of wheels and tires on it, the locked wheels will still drag under the trailer.

Luckily, there are lighter versions available, because the 1/2" chain that I use is overkill, not for the faint of heart, and not to be used near fine finishes or nice wheels. That 20 foot section weights 93 lbs and is not kind to the surfaces that it touches. When used for my Nova, I simply go over the axle, inside the leaf springs. I don't want to mess up the trim rings or powder coating on the wheels. :frightened:

If you consider using a beefy chain and good lock, just remember to keep that lock off of the ground and away from run-off, to help keep debris out of it. There's no point in paying through the teeth for a lock if it's just going to get packed with dirt and mud on its first use.


Lastly, insurance.
I have really good coverage on my Nova, with an agreed upon payout value. That helps with peace of mind when I take it places. I would hate to lose the car. But an insurance payout is better than nothing.
I use Hagerty. They claim to insure custom trailers. Perhaps I should check to see if a scratch-built teardrop qualifies. (I don't see why not. Scratch-built car haulers do.)
User avatar
Squigie
Teardrop Master
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:52 am
Location: Southeastern ID
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby TimC » Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:29 am

Thanks for all the tracker info folks. There were some very comprehensive answers there!

I don't know what direction I will take yet. I might wait until next season when I hope to do some extensive trips. I only have two or three shorter trips planned for the rest of the year. I'm leaning toward the GPS with subscription, but, I do have an old unused Trac smart phone that works and I could buy some minutes to experiment with it. It would be a cheap alternative. I'm assuming Trac phones don't carry over minutes, so, I'd have to renew each month. If I remember correctly I can get minimum minutes for around $8/mth. If anyone can suggest an app for that let me know...

Tim
Tim
Niagara, WI
My First Teardrop Build Thread - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=63575
My Second Teardrop Build Thread - Started August '16 - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=66939
User avatar
TimC
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 402
Images: 224
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:15 am
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby tony.latham » Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:36 am

Here's my answer to the theft issue:

Image

No subscription required.

T
User avatar
tony.latham
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 3732
Images: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:03 pm
Location: Middle of Idaho on the edge of nowhere
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby featherliteCT1 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:34 pm

Squigie, great post! :thumbsup:
featherliteCT1
500 Club
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:54 am
Location: Southern Indiana
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby RJ Howell » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:37 pm

tony.latham wrote:Here's my answer to the theft issue:

Image

No subscription required.

T


As I spoke to a Repro friend, he told me I don't care what you do for a hitch lock.. I don't use the hitch.
There really isn't much we can do about a 'pro' taking the trailer. A Pro uses a flatbed and drags the whole thing onboard. Done. Wheel locks, hitch locks, whatever.

It all comes down to determents for the un-professional thief. Make yours harder than the next guys.

I like the non-ball hitch idea and may add it to my arsenal of determents. Even though easily beaten by just a chain, yet another!

Trackers, well I certainly hope local law enforcement would pay attention.. Yet I doubt the attention due to whatever else they have going on. Thieves work in areas that Law Enforcement is typically busy with greater issues, sorry but your trailer is not a life threatening situation... or really something that serious to them..
Yet for you to track, maybe.. according to cost. Then what to do about it..

Leaving your second cellphone in the trailer with Find-Me left on would do the same thing as a tracker. If your looking at a tracker, I assume you both have cellphones. It's built in and in your plan. Again as most of us, you're not alone..

What does it cost for a tracker plan? Is it worth, with all else considered, worth the dollar? That answer is yours and yours alone. Would I pay $10 a month for it.. No. You may think it's worth while, peace of mind..

18K of exploring the USA and Canada, not yet I have stayed in a spot I was worried about.
Just my thoughts on the matter..
RJ Howell
The 300 Club
 
Posts: 328
Images: 34
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:08 am
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby tony.latham » Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:55 am

There really isn't much we can do about a 'pro' taking the trailer. A Pro uses a flatbed and drags the whole thing onboard. Done. Wheel locks, hitch locks, whatever.


RJ:

I live in a big county with very few folks. 7,000 people in 4500 square miles. We do have our crooks. And I know who they are --I put handcuffs on a few of them back in the day.

None of those cretins have a flatbed tow truck. :thumbsup:

Image

I would hazard to guess that nationwide, 95% of the trailer thefts are opportunistic hitch and run incidents.

Tony
User avatar
tony.latham
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 3732
Images: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:03 pm
Location: Middle of Idaho on the edge of nowhere
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby Bill n Robi » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:09 am

Although it won't help when you're out on the road , but for local problems being friends with the local LE has helped me. I did several ride-alongs with local PD and county sheriffs so when my bicycle was stolen, I called one of my 'friends'. Bike was somewhat unique, black soft tail mountain bike with a rack attached to the seat bar. Sure enough was spotted 60 miles away on the back of a car, turned out the person had drugs, and other stolen items in the car.
2015 T@G Max
2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4 Door Short Bed
User avatar
Bill n Robi
The 300 Club
 
Posts: 390
Images: 4
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2014 4:32 pm
Location: Big Pine, Ca
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby Tomterrific » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:24 pm

I've mentioned before about removing wheels but I have an even better idea similar to Tony. So many tears are built on tilting trailers. The tongue on these is held in by a single bolt to pivot on and a hitch pin to be pulled to tilt. Easy to replace the single bolt with a removable pin. Remove the two pins and the entire tongue can be removed. Easy and good protection.

Tt
Tomterrific
The 300 Club
 
Posts: 477
Images: 8
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:18 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Top

TD Insurance... Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby TimC » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:36 am

Squigie wrote: I use Hagerty. They claim to insure custom trailers. Perhaps I should check to see if a scratch-built teardrop qualifies. (I don't see why not. Scratch-built car haulers do.)


I called Hagerty in Traverse City (assuming that's the right one). My sister worked for Hagerty for years as a contractor as they became a mega insurance company transforming from a small town firm.

Anyway, Andy at Hagerty said he would check and later returned my call. He said they have discussed the idea of covering these types of trailers and wanted to get the latest scoop on where that's headed. For now, they insure teardrops from 1969 and prior that have been restored and are used in car shows. Those used as camping equipment are not covered at this time. He said to check back again as they are always evolving their offerings. Maybe if we home builders bombard them with requests they will speed up that process!

I just started working on a tracker App using an old android phone. So far after one trip it seems to work well (on an old LG Trac phone that cost me $4.98 a couple years ago). The cost will be $.20/day after a 14 day trial. They have other rates for commercial (or personal, with more options). Will update after longer trial of a month or so. I have to check to see if they really will allow a suspension of the account when the TD is in storage. That part is not clear, but, at $6.20/mth that's not too shabby. Keeping the phone hidden and hooked to a charger is no problem. Maybe even a small tag/sign/keychain on my hitch lock stating that the trailer is tracked fulltime. Might discourage a few folks, at least the "honest" ones. The App is Evertrack by Corvups.com. So far the only shortcoming I see is the App will not show me history. I have sign on online to see that. Not a biggie. history is not something I need everyday, just if it pisadeers.

I'm not endorsing this product, just hoping some others may chime in on their experience with the company.

Tim
Tim
Niagara, WI
My First Teardrop Build Thread - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=63575
My Second Teardrop Build Thread - Started August '16 - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=66939
User avatar
TimC
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 402
Images: 224
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:15 am
Top

Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby friz » Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:48 pm

Most all trackers have limitations. The best one I have found is:
https://www.findmespot.com/en/

This uses the satellite phone network. Visible every where.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
The "Sin Bin"
150133
User avatar
friz
The 300 Club
 
Posts: 474
Images: 2
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:01 pm
Top

EverTrack App... Re: Tracker Units and Their Pros and Cons

Postby TimC » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:27 am

It's been eleven days since firing up the Trac Phone tracking app. The tracking function has functioned perfectly and has not been a big draw on my Trac Phone's battery. I intend to hook it up to a charger while active in the TD. I don't know how the billing for this service works yet. I just know their rate of 20 cents per day. I never gave them any billing info yet, so, we'll see. UPDATE... they use a "top off payment" method. If I want 30 days coverage I prepay my account .20 x 30 and when that runs out the account is suspended until I top off again. Each tracker unit (you are allowed up to five on a personal account) costs 20 cents per day. I'm going to trial a second unit for the rest of my trial period to get more data. They store your data that you can retrieve for 5 days. They keep your data on their system for 6 months, so, in the event a theft occurs they can help you out beyond the 5 days. Also, you can download the data for your own use.

I'm going to head through some nearby cell deserts this week and hope to monitor how that effects the service. I'll update when I know the true cost and whether they deal with turning the subscription on and off without a hassle.

Again, if anyone wants to try a trial with their old unused smart phone the service is an app called EverTrack and it is offered by CorvusGPS.com. There is a 14 day free trial period. And no, I have no connection to this company.

Tim
Tim
Niagara, WI
My First Teardrop Build Thread - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=63575
My Second Teardrop Build Thread - Started August '16 - viewtopic.php?f=50&t=66939
User avatar
TimC
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 402
Images: 224
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:15 am
Top


Return to User Polls

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests