CHOICE membership

Tracking Devices for valueable items



Wanted to know how tracking devices work, and hence what equipment and or service is needed.

My insurance company asked if I had a tracking device on my motorbike. Am guessing they use GPS, and hence could communicate with a smart phone maybe my desktop at the hardware level; would I need an app (hopefully free) or service.

Clearly this needn’t be limited to m/bikes, could be anything of significant value that might get trucked elsewhere when stolen.


Various kinds - most common/affordable ones seem to use the mobile network to transmit tracking information received via GPS. Some devices are very cheap, others not so - some standalone, some integrated with alarm/etc …

Some offer centralised tracking, some just send you the details directly (SMS for example), remote kill switch for ignition … sadly I haven’t seen one that offers remote pepper spray or taser, but I imagine there are legal problems with this :slight_smile:

One thing to consider is that particularly for motorcycles the organised gangs are onto this kind of thing - a small van makes a great faraday cage and especially on naked bikes the devices are fairly easy to spot and remove. Even if they are battery backed, there’s a chance you will be recovering your tracking device in a bin or by the side of the road. Cars are more difficult to treat this way …

Another consideration is how the unit contacts you or the base - mobile coverage may be fairly useless if you live in a rural or remote area … Make sure anything you consider works in Australia :slight_smile:

A quick search finds many - possibly a good topic for a Choice test? A couple from the top of my search results just now:


Your point about Choice doing something seems very pertinent. From your comments it seems like their are quite few things to take into account, as well as device testing, ie, just what ACA is about.


We have tested personal tracking devices, the type you might want a child or elderly relative to wear. Automotive tracking is not one of our priorities at the moment, but I’ll certainly bring it up again within our team. Thanks for the suggestion !


It might also be useful to know if any particular devices if correctly installed can reduce your insurance premiums. They devices may be very popular with certain car enthusiasts and owners of rare or valuable vehicles. Although to boast you have such a device fitted might not be too wise?

Less objectively our 14 year old shopping centre battle scarred Toyota only seems to attract shopping trolleys and vehicles with near sighted drivers. Is the gold standard objective test of how well the devices work, leaving say a Ferrari F40 in a car park unlocked, testing the tracking and then later the remote immobiliser? Sorry that I can only loan you the Toyota,:smiley:


Another consideration that needs highlighting: @draughtrider) mentioned about being in or out of mobile phone coverage. The devices communicate via the mobile phone towers, so you must also allow for the monthly cost of a SIM card and data usage by the device.

When I looked some time ago, I couldn’t find any cheap plan for these tracking devices that just sit there and use a very small amount of data over the course of a month. Maybe things have changed.


Another reason for ScottOKeefe to raise the profile of this need!


These days, location tracking would probably be classified as an Internet of Things (IoT) application.

If we’re to believe the hype, 5G will mean big things for IoT.

It will be interesting to see how the market for low-data applications develops. Profiteering could readily kill it. Something for Choice to keep an eye on.


You might compare the data needs to a long term prepaid account.
Optus offer a BYO plan $30 for 6 months with data charged at 5c per MB.
Perhaps that is enough. Knowing the typical daily data usage of any device tested would also be useful in assessing of a low cost plan is adequate.


Here’s how to get testing requests and suggestions into our ‘pipeline’. More people making the same suggestion will increase the likelihood of prioritisation. :grinning:


Try Tile squares, which can be attached to valuable items such as bicycles, gym bags etc and tracked via an app on your phone. Very cost effective way!


Tile is a product probably more useful for things that you might misplace, rather than a tracking solution. To be able to track a Tile, there needs to be other users of the Tile app in the vicinity of the object. It probably works quite well in heavily populated parts of the USA, but maybe less so in Australia.


I bought some TrackRs a few years ago, thinking they would be useful for keeping track of our dogs if they ever escaped their prison/luxurious abode. You need to have the app on your phone, and as with Tiles they rely upon crowd-sourced Bluetooth location.

These devices may be okay in city centres, but according to their online Crowd Locate map (under How it works) the 'burbs are much less well covered.