Anti-Theft Device: Spot Trace
Mountain Sledder | On 25, Jan 2016
You hear about sled theft faaaaar too often (once is too often). If you’ve been sledding for a while then you probably know someone who’s been a victim of the crime, or been one yourself. The thought of it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and a gutshot feeling in your stomach.
You’ve worked hard to own your machine and it would be a bitter pill to swallow to write a cheque for a replacement.
Having theft insurance is a good backup, but it’s not a perfect solution. It’s expensive, and for sledders with older units the premiums over the course of a few years might total more than the machine itself is worth. Plus it’s well-known that it can be a headache to deal with an insurance company when a claim becomes necessary.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to deter a thief when you’re out on a sledding trip. Chains and locks are all too easily snipped with bolt cutters, and more often than not, perpetrators will simply bypass your locks by hijacking your truck instead and dumping it somewhere down the road.
Let’s say your snowmobile did go missing. Wouldn’t you just love to be able to stick it to those thieves? How about being able to hand over to the police the exact GPS coordinates of your stolen unit? That sounds pretty sweet.
SPOT, a company known for its line of personal locators used in emergency situations, has recognized that theft of expensive toys is a big problem and has offered a solution that can help recover stolen goods. The company has used its GPS expertise to design a tracking device that can be hidden on your valuable asset and can notify you and track your snowmobile if it is stolen. The device is called the SPOT Trace.
Spot Trace—Anti-Theft Device
The Trace works by notifying you via SMS or email if it moves. The device detects movement, then begins sending location coordinates at pre-determined intervals of 2.5, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. The location can be viewed on Google Maps with either your smartphone or computer. And because Trace uses SPOT’s satellite technology, the device will continue to track beyond where mobile coverage exists, even far into the mountains (Where redneck thieves like to stash stolen sleds!)
Trace can also send daily status messages, and it will notify you if the batteries are getting low, or when it has powered down.
Under normal circumstances, Trace is powered by 4 AAA batteries which means that it doesn’t need require an external power supply or to be hard-wired into the power of your electric start snowmobile. An included USB cable (not waterproof) can power the device indefinitely if there is a power supply nearby, and an optional waterproof DC power cable can be purchased separately. Otherwise, with normal use, new AAA batteries should last up to 5 months depending what settings are used.
At only 2.7″ tall and less than 1″ thick, Trace is small and easily hidden on your machine. And it is discreet, with a matte black finish. You can mount it in a variety of ways that are included with the device, including a reversible mounting bracket, double-sided tape, adhesive grip pad or adhesive hook-and-loop (aka Velcro) tape.
Where to put it? Well, that’s up to you. Trace is waterproof rated IPX7 (1m underwater for up to 30 minutes), but it should probably be placed somewhere that is protected from the elements to some degree. SPOT suggests not placing it under anything metal so as not to interfere with satellite communication. Every machine is different, but most have some storage, and in the worst case scenario it could probably be mounted somewhere under the hood—just remember to remove it before heating up the engine compartment!
The best feature of the Trace is peace of mind! You can be anywhere, far away from your sled and know that it’s right where you left it, without feeling like you have to check up on it. This is a wonderful benefit for people on vacation, or that leave their sled somewhere other than their residence.
And you can rest easy at night (when most thefts occur), knowing that you’ll be notified immediately if your sled starts to walk away. This applies whether you’re sleeping at home, or at some hotel on a sledding road trip.
Getting your new Trace all setup and ready for use is easy. All you have to do is go to the SPOT website and set up a user profile. If you already have an existing profile for another SPOT device such as its Gen3 personal locator or Global Phone, then you can simply link your new Trace to your present account. Here you’ll be charged for Trace’s annual service plan. More on cost later.
Once you’ve registered, it’s time to make sure your device is up-to-date and working. It may require an update, as SPOT is regularly updating and improving the firmware of its devices for optimum performance, and new firmware may be available. SPOT offers an easy to use device update software which is readily available from your account page.
From your account page, you can see how the Trace is setup. And it comes just like I want it, right out of the box. Tracking coordinates are set to send every 5 minutes, and movements alerts are enabled. My email address (from my profile) was already set to be notified in case of movement, and my only change was to add my mobile phone number as well.
Once updated, it’s time to fire up the device. Take it outside to a spot with a clear and unobstructed view of the sky and press the power button. The green power light will blink green to indicate ‘On’. A blinking green GPS light indicates that Trace is looking for a GPS signal. Blinking red means that a GPS location fix has failed, which means you need to move to a different, less obstructed location.
Once trace has locked in a signal it will send a message to confirm that it is working properly. Now, take your Trace and place it somewhere on your precious asset! Mount it with any of the aforementioned options that come in the box, and walk away. Trace is ready to do its job!
Trace in Action
It its first test (I walked the device over to my car and left it on the roof), Trace did its job perfectly. I was sent a message about movement, followed up by a tracking message.
I followed the link, which took me to a SPOT webpage with more information and a map with my device’s location.
Having downloaded the SPOT app for my phone, I decided to check it out as well. I did an even better job of providing information with a satellite image and pin points for the various messages that had been sent including movement, a tracking message, and a power down (that I had done).
The app also had a more detailed information screen for each pin point message.
Pretty cool! Simple and easy to use, with just the features that I want and nothing more.
Be cautioned however, that if your sled did go missing with a Trace on-board, that it wouldn’t be a good idea to show up at its location and try to take it back. This could potentially be dangerous, since whoever stole your sled or truck clearly has very little regard for the law and probably for your well-being as well. In fact, a London Ontario teenager was murdered recently when his phone was stolen and he used its tracking app to follow and confront the perpetrators. In that situation, police said that it was difficult for them to get a lead in the investigation because the victim and the perpetrators had no prior history or relationship.
So as tough a guy you may (claim to!) be, be advised. Give the information over to the police, who are more than happy to investigate on your behalf. You get your sled back, and the bad guys end up where they belong.
The Trace has a one-time cost of $119.95 for the device itself, in addition to an annual “Basic” service plan of $99.99. An “Extreme Tracking” plan can be added for an additional service that can send a tracking messages every 2.5 minutes in addition to the basic 5, 10, 30 and 60 minute options available under the “Basic” plan.
Even if your snowmobile never is stolen, that’s not a bad price to pay for piece of mind.
See www.findmespot.ca for more information.