A vehicle crime steering committee believes microdotting cars will help fight vehicle crime in South Africa by disrupting illegal chop shop operations. Should all cars have this technology?

A vehicle crime steering committee believes microdotting cars will help fight vehicle crime in South Africa by disrupting illegal chop shop operations.

A microdot vehicle security system involves spraying thousands of small laser marked identifiers on to a vehicle. It is impossible to remove all the dots. This means it is should be impossible to change the identity of a vehicle or to amalgamate several stolen vehicles into one.

The vehicle crime steering committee consists of representatives from Business Against Crime (BAC), the South African Police Service detective service, the South African Insurance Association, South African Revenue Service (Customs and Excise), the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, National Prosecution Authority, the Banking Council, Department of Transport and Automobile Association of South Africa.

BAC says about 20 000 stolen and hijacked vehicles are chopped up every year and illegally sold as parts in South Africa. “The effective disruption of illegal chop shop operations depends critically on the ability of law enforcement officers to identify the components of dismantled motor vehicles and to relate these to the original manufactured and registered vehicle,” says BAC.

“Microdots give the police a chance to recover the vehicles. It will be costly for chop shops to remove the dots and they will never be sure that they have removed all the dots. If the police raid their premises, one dot is enough to identify a car and whether it is stolen,” Iain Cumming, Vehicle Crime project manager at BAC, told CARtoday.com.

This technology has been adopted by the Australian National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council and BAC says the early indications are that this has been successful.

Avis and Claredon Transport Underwriters, a subsidiary of Hollard Insurance, have started microdotting their vehicles through DataDot, which supplies the technology. Claredon underwrites many minibus taxis, which Cumming says have the highest theft rate in the country.

“Vehicle identification number fraud is a major problem in South Africa, whether the criminal attempts to modify or remove the VIN number or use more sophisticated methods,” executive director of operations and finance at Avis Rent a Car, Pat O’Brien, said in June when they began the process.

“Microdot technology does not only have the potential to deter theft, but increases the chances of vehicles being recovered and can provide evidence that could lead to prosecution of offenders.”

An Avis spokesman added that all new vehicles coming into the Avis fleet would be sprayed with the microdots “for less than the price of a tank of petrol per vehicle”.

What do you think?