Innovative technology designed by Swindon security firm TSSI Systems is being used by police in Northern Ireland to combat the growing theft of construction vehicles and plant.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has become the first in the UK to adopt TSSI’s Regula Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspection system, allowing officers to quickly check vehicles have not been stolen.
As a result of car manufacturers building-in ever more sophisticated anti-theft devices, criminals have switched their attention to construction, transport and agricultural equipment –including tractors, trailers, diggers and even cranes – which they see as easier targets.
Theft of these vehicles costs the UK economy around £1bn a year according to research last year by insurer Allianz Cornhill.
TSSI’s Regula 7505M device will allows the police to rapidly see if a vehicle’s VIN has been altered, and help to uncover its true identity. VINs, which are unique to each vehicle, are usually stamped into the chassis by the manufacturer. They are described as a vehicle’s DNA or fingerprint.
However, crime gangs are increasingly using technology to alter VIN in such convincing ways that they can only be identified by expert analysis.
Regula employs unique Magneto Optical technology designed to uncover the original VIN, which does not destroy the original evidence.
The 7505M model used in Northern Ireland harnesses innovative techniques to identify VINs that have been altered, and can also help reconstruct the vehicle chassis number in a non-destructive way.
Rust, paint, lacquer coatings and other methods used to hide the alteration of the VIN are ineffective as the system’s imaging technology can reveal the extent of the criminal activity.
TSSI chief executive Ivor Lewis said: “The investment in the VIN inspection unit has the potential to deliver significant economic savings through more effective detection of stolen vehicles and successful prosecutions; recovering costs for insurers and the insured, and making it harder for the ‘ringing’ of vehicles and machinery.”
The Regula 7505 will be employed in PSNI’s own investigations and also offered as a service to other police, vehicle examiners and insurance companies as an alternative method of VIN inspection.
Originally part of Thorn EMI, TSSI has been providing security and authentication systems to companies, banks and the Governments since 1985.
Its products, including document verification, fingerprint biometrics and identification systems, are used in more than 20 countries worldwide in sectors such as cash in transit, further and higher education, healthcare, retail, pharmaceutical, airports and financial institutions. Blue chip customers include Group 4 Securicor and the NHS.