There are few things in life that are as upsetting as being victimized by a thief. Granted, most possessions can be replaced, but the resentment of having something special taken often lingers long after the check from the insurance company clears (if there is one). And when it comes to having a street rod stolen, there isn’t really anything that will make us feel better.
For many of us, having a street rod disappear is something that happens to someone else. Not long ago that “someone else” was our pal, Chick Koszis. We’ll let him tell how events unfolded in his own words:
The ArrowTrack unit is compact and easily hidden. Connections are simple, the red wire is
I was attending the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona [California]. I was staying at the Fairplex Sheraton Hotel, adjacent to the GNRS venue. I had driven the roadster into the show on Saturday as part of the Drive-In show. When that concluded at 5 p.m., I drove the car out of the fairgrounds and parked in the Sheraton parking lot. The parking spot that I got was right in front of the hotel and not 50 yards from the front lobby entrance. I went to dinner with some friends in their car. When we returned around 8 p.m., I checked the car and it was there.
The next morning at around 8:30, I went out to the parking lot to put my suitcase in the car. It was then that I discovered it missing. I went to the reception desk to ask if any cars had been towed that night for any reason, and they reported that no cars were towed. “Well then, I’d like to report mine stolen,” was my reply. The hotel management was called along with the security night supervisor, who also happens to be the night facilities supervisor (you know, the guy who keeps the furnace and the elevators running). They notified the local police department. I filled out an incident report with the hotel management and filed a police report with the Pomona Police Department when they arrived. I asked the hotel manager about surveillance camera coverage. He advised me that they have no cameras covering the parking area.
This is bird’s eye map showing the location of our vehicle, indicated by the green star. T
A couple of side notes: One, the Fairplex Sheraton utilizes the Fairplex security staff. They have no independent security personnel. Two, Dick Rodwell told me later that he cruised into the hotel parking lot about 9 p.m. or so on Saturday evening, saw my car and decided to try to find me inside to shoot the bull. I had already gone upstairs to my room so we didn’t see each other. But, Dick can’t go 10 feet without meeting someone he knows and getting into a conversation with them. A couple of hours later, he went back out to the parking lot to leave and noticed that my roadster wasn’t where it had been parked. So, it’s pretty evident that the car was stolen from in front of the hotel between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. Saturday evening. Note that it wasn’t parked in a dark, lonely, secluded spot but literally right in front of a busy, major hotel.
There were no security precautions taken. Up to that point, I really didn’t consider security as being an issue with our cars. Sure, I’d heard of street rods being stolen before, but it didn’t seem to be a risk. That was then and now I know better. I’m sure that the thieves scouted the car out and this wasn’t a “drive-by” operation. I feel that they had to have had a trailer nearby and they didn’t need to start the car. They just needed to reach into the car, put the shift lever in neutral and push it into their waiting enclosed car-hauling trailer. There were plenty of those around the hotel and Fairplex parking areas because of the show, so it would not have attracted attention.
My opinions after this experience:
1. Fuel system shutoffs and electrical system kill switches would not have prevented the theft of my car. They would have had plenty of time to figure out those annoyances after they got it to their shop.
Another view option is the road map. Along with the address, the latitude and longitude of
2. You can’t depend on hotel security (people or cameras) because many don’t have them anyway.
3. Law enforcement cautions the vehicle owner not to try to recover the car on your own but to notify the police. You’re dealing with a criminal element who may not hesitate to physically harm you. Their advice is don’t try to be a hero. Let them do what they’re paid to do.
4. Don’t assume that your car won’t be stolen. Prepare for the worst, which brings up street rod insurance. Simply put, get some.
Back in the Feb. ’06 issue of STREET RODDER we did a story called “Guard Duty” (you can find it at www.streetrodder.com), which looked at security measures that could be taken to protect your street rod. Since that story ran there have been some remarkable improvements in anti-theft/recovery devices, and one of the most impressive we’ve seen is the ArrowTrack available from Steve Sbelgio and Eclipse Engineering. It uses the latest state-of-the-art GPS and cellular technologies to monitor your vehicle and will notify you by text and email if your vehicle is moved. That means that, unlike many systems, you don’t have to discover your car is missing before action can be taken. As soon as an alert is received you can log on to the system, click the “Locate” icon, and your car will be found, usually in a matter of seconds. And with a stolen street rod, the longer it’s gone, the less likely it is to be found.
A third view option is the aerial view.
Installing the ArrowTrack couldn’t be easier. There are four wires coming out of the unit, but only two are used, a constant power supply and a ground. The unit is then positioned with the beveled side up so it can “see out of the car” through the windows, but that doesn’t mean it has to be out in the open. The ArrowTrack can be hidden out of sight and in most cases the lower the better as that gives the unit’s internal antenna a better angle to “see” the satellites. Plastics, wood, and regular glass do not interfere with GPS signals and the tracker will operate normally if it is covered by any of these materials.
Once installed, some basic information is entered into the online ArrowTrack registration site and the device settings are established. These include contact information for the alert notifications, which include theft alert, motion, power disconnect, power reconnect, low car battery, low internal battery, and the optional Geofence and mph notifications. The price of the unit includes one year of service and 500 “traks,” or search requests for the vehicle (regular alerts, such as movement, are unlimited). After that the charge for annual service is $99, which is normally offset by reductions in premiums by most insurance companies.
Here is a typical alert history. It provides the time, type of alert, and address where th
We installed an ArrowTracker to see for ourselves how effectively it would find a vehicle. Not only did it notify us by text messaging and email every time the vehicle was moved, but we could determine its location in three different modes on the ArrowTracker website, even when parked in a building. Which brings up an interesting point. If a vehicle was to be parked in a structure that somehow blocked the unit’s access to the satellites, the point of entry can be pinpointed. And if the vehicle leaves the building, contact is reestablished and its location will be known.
Unfortunately, other than posting an armed guard to constantly stand watch over your street rod there’s no completely effective means to prevent it from being stolen, however the ArrowTracker is one of the best methods to get it back.