Stealing a fleet vehicle isn’t a smart idea, but it happens. A solid telematics solution can help.

Earlier this year, KCAL Channel 9 in Los Angeles reported on the theft of a tanker truck. The man, who was obviously familiar with how to drive a tanker, led police through the streets of Beverly Hills and down the famous Wilshire Blvd. on a joy ride that lasted roughly 30 minutes. Despite speeding along, talking on his cellphone, with 21,000 gallons of an unidentified fluid in tow, he was conscientious enough to stop at traffic signals and intersections to allow pedestrians to cross. After taking a turn down a closed road, the driver stopped the tanker and exited the truck. He was then arrested by police.

Recovered Vehicles Do Not Guarantee Recovered Costs

While it is obviously inadvisable to pinch a commercial vehicle, the crime still happens. Even if a stolen fleet vehicle or company truck is recovered days or weeks later, fleet managers and company owners still must worry about the possibility of damage inflicted upon the vehicle. It is not much of a stretch to presume that the perpetrator of commercial vehicle theft may sometimes engage in vehicle vandalism or reckless driving while in possession of the vehicle.

While theft of fleet vehicles and their contents cannot be entirely prevented, two dispatch-related activities may minimize the risk of theft and, in the event that commercial vehicle is stolen, curtail loss. These two activities, tracking vehicles real-time and creating a fleet “geofence,” can be executed with ease with a good telematics solution.

Real-Time Vehicle Tracking

Fleet managers and dispatchers are generally familiar with some sort of vehicle tracking technology. In decades past, tracking took place by reviewing order documents, calls to and from dispatch, and reports from clients. While these methods could confirm a driver’s presence at specific points in time, it was the hours between stops that sometimes became problematic. Citizen’s Band (CB) radio came along and improved the back-and-forth between driver and dispatcher; however, CB reports could not be verified. (Rarely do thieves report back to their dispatchers via CB that they are making off with the company truck.) Additionally, CBs do not provide positioning reports. And sometimes, the perpetrator simply doesn’t reply when hailed by the dispatcher. Sure, the stolen vehicle may turn up, but it likely won’t be anytime soon when using only these tools. That leaves plenty of time to thrash the cab and remove its most valuable contents.

GPS reporting, on the other hand, is immediate and accurate. It doesn’t change the story based on the situation or withhold information. And it makes truly real-time vehicle monitoring a very viable option for fleet managers. A GPS-based telematics solution is an essential weapon in a fleet manager’s security arsenal. Implementing a telematics solution that includes GPS tracking results in the most accurate accounts of your vehicles’ locations.


In addition to real-time tracking, creating a fleet “geofence” bolsters the security disposition of any fleet. Simply speaking, a geofence is a geographic zone that dispatchers create on their fleet management map that monitors designated vehicles. A good geofence will alert the dispatcher if a designated vehicle strays outside a pre-set boundary. This protects company assets and the contents on board.

Additional Benefits of a Telematics Solution

A solid telematics solution not only reviews driver behaviors, but also delivers valuable customer service benefits. Real-time information provided by a robust telematics system enables dispatchers to communicate arrival times to clients with great precision and accuracy. Furthermore, dispatchers become an “eye in the sky,” empowered to direct drivers down efficient paths and the most direct routes to their destinations, even in locations with high construction and traffic. Without such a solution, drivers have only a small piece of the overall picture, aware only of what’s happening on the very street on which they are currently traveling.

Finally, when combining a telematics solution with a mobility app, dispatchers can also monitor product levels and deliveries on each vehicle in real time. Integrating mobility into an existing telematics solution always allows dispatchers and drivers to know the exact amount of product delivered to each client and the amount of product on each vehicle.

From security improvements to driver performance enhancement, customer service insights, and inventory management, the incremental cost of a solid telematics solution that connects dispatcher and driver generates much more than an incremental boost to a fleet’s bottom line.

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