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Microdotting will put a puncture in car theft


Sunday Tribune March 25 2012| Masood Boomgaard

CAR THIEVES and hijackers may soon find that their jobs have been made difficult, thanks to the new microdot technology project being introduced by the department of transport.

The move is expected to greatly increase the number of hijacked or stolen vehicles recovered and deal a serious blow to the illegal motor spares industry.

Microdotting is a process whereby manufacturers spray around 10 000 tiny dots compromising a unique identification number in at least 88 different positions on a vehicle. This leaves a lasting imprint of the original identity of the vehicle and its associated parts. The dots can be detected with an ultraviolet light and magnifier.

It will be compulsory for all new vehicles manufactured in SA from June to be microdotted in accordance with amendments made to the National Road Traffic Act.

“We believe it is going to result in the great reduction of the number of cars stolen and minimise opportunities for those who hijack or steal cars. This is an incredibly positive development,” said police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge. Mdunge said that investigations had shown that in most vehicle-related crimes, the license number, vehicle identification number and engine number were altered to conceal the identity of the vehicle.

Experts say that with Microdotting criminals will need to locate and remove all 10 000 dots while police will be able to recover a vehicle using just one dot.

“The introduction of microdots will drastically reduce the criminal activities of organised syndicates, restricting them from on selling a stolen vehicle or vehicle parts,” said Business Against Crime (BAC) project manager Fouché Burgers.

According to the study conducted by BAC in conjunction with the police an estimated 90 000 vehicles, valued at R3.8 Billion, are stolen each year in SA. About half end up for illegal resale on the local market. Of the remainder, 30 percent are “chopped up” for use as spare parts.

“The cost to the economy is enormous if one considers that there are more the 12 000 vehicles recovered annually which can’t be identified. Worth over R1 billion, these are destroyed by the law enforcements agencies,” said Burgers.

Nissan and BMW have been microdotting their vehicles since 2006 while Toyota microdots all its Quantum minibuses during manufacture.

Christelle Fourie, managing director MUA Insurance Acceptances said that the insurance industry welcomed microdotting as a “long awaited and necessary legal stand against motor vehicle theft and the illegal spare parts trade in SA”.

Fourie said that the introduction of compulsory microdotting may also result in lower insurance premiums. BAC has also encouraged owners of older vehicles to have their cars microdotted at fitment centres to increase the probability of recovery. The cost of after-market microdotting is around R2 500.

Microdotting will put a puncture in car theft

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