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UK experts reject Whole Of Vehicle Marking

Media Release
22 November 2007

UK experts reject Whole Of Vehicle Marking

Whole of vehicle marking (or ‘microdot’ technology), which is on schedule to become mandatory for vehicles entering the New Zealand fleet, has received the ‘thumbs down’ from the UK’s leading vehicle crime investigators.

The Thatcham Autocrime forum is comprised of members representing 43 regional police forces from throughout the UK, and meets regularly at the Thatcham Motor Research premises to discuss methods to tackle vehicle crime. The group works closely with vehicle manufacturers and the insurance industry. In 1998 vehicle crime in the UK was spiralling out of control, with over 550,000 cars stolen per annum and increasing year on year. A major initiative coming out of Thatcham is the requirement that vehicles sold in the UK must have at least 15 components marked in overt and covert ways and traceable to the original VIN number, with the process carried out in the factory. As a result of the group’s work, vehicle thefts in the UK are now below 200,000 per year, confined mostly to vehicles manufactured before 1998.

The Thatcham forum found that processing datadot identification on the side of the road proved impossible, and that microdots therefore had little operational value. “Even in the case of in-depth forensic examinations datadots proved time-consuming and evidentially obstructive”, said Ian Elliott of the London Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime Directorate.

Mike Briggs, Thatcham's Vehicle Security Manager said: "We do not believe that Whole Of Vehicle Marking, using microdot technology, will have any real effect on car crime rates within New Zealand. We do advocate WOVM using physical, visible marking - and as part of an overall package. However, there are other more cost effective ways to provide enhanced security solutions for the consumer, which are easy to implement and which will deliver immediate results - one of which would be an alignment of immobilisation standards to UK specification."

The New Zealand Motor Industry Association believes that Government needs to reconsider its enthusiasm for microdots. “The Government seems to have its priorities out of order on the issue of vehicle security,” said MIA CEO Perry Kerr. “Microdots are only of value in the case of specialised cars which are targeted for their components, and most of these are fitted with microdots on a voluntary basis already. They are ineffective against opportunistic theft,” he said. “Also, just like in the UK, the vast majority of stolen cars are now pre-1998 models, the ones not fitted with electronic immobilisers.”

“Immobiliser technology can easily be retro-fitted to existing cars,” said Mr. Kerr, “and common sense would suggest that this would be a far more effective deterrent against opportunistic car theft than microdots.”

“Forcing microdots onto all importers ( new and used cars ) would only increase cost and add time, storage and transportation hassles to the distribution process for no real benefit,” said Mr. Kerr. “The Transport Minister needs to consider the advice of the British experts and quietly bury this proposal in favour of the far more practical and effective measure of requiring immobilisers to be fitted to all cars entering the fleet.”


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