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Big bucks crime

23 May 2006 Angelo Coppola

We speak to Allen Harington, chairman of Orbtech Tracking Systems and chairman of VESA the Vehicle Security Association of South Africa, about the motor vehicle security sector, his businesses, criminal activities and the road ahead.

Firstly, (touch wood) from an Buddi-Track perspective they have not identified any such activities, nor had the misfortune of having to deal with staff members that could have or has been involved in such activities.

Having said that; I do believe we have to take cognisance of the fact that vehicle crime equates to an annual R5bn industry. Logic tells us - and we have proof of that - that this industry is driven by highly intelligent and sophisticated organized crime syndicates.

With R5bn at their disposal, we cannot underestimate the dynamics of their organizational abilities nor their sophistication. Even though the companies that are currently in the news are my direct competitors, I cannot take any pleasure from their plight. Industrial espionage is a fact of life.

Vehicle crime is a major industry. Even though we have various structures in place to avoid becoming a victim, we do not underestimate the intelligence networks available to these syndicates.

Another consideration of course is that the syndicates themselves "leaked" this information to the press. What better method of attack is there than discrediting the ability of your greatest opponent?

For one second let us consider the panic that this news has spread under the consumer - not to even mention the distrust that has been created in any vehicle security product manufacturer or service provider. Score = 1:0 for the criminals?

I do agree that it is our duty (as an industry) to eliminate the possibility of this happening. I do agree that we are in fact acting as trustees of our client's safety and security. I also do believe that, in general terms, Tracker has done their best to fulfill this charter.

In this regard we have to give consideration to the Tracker statistics (vehicles recovered) during their lifespan and I believe that we have to applaud the impact that Tracker has made in the fight against vehicle crime.

Even though Tracker has resigned their membership with VESA, as chairman, I have to congratulate Tracker's management on the speed at which they have addressed the problem as well as the fact that they have been very forthcoming in terms of their liaison with the media.

It could have been much easier on them if they made it out to be a single case and not divulged the information of further suspensions of their employees in this regard. I believe that this carries a lot of weight relative to their management's credibility.

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