Dutch e-bike riders first to get new GPS security system
New integrated tracker designed to make life uncomfortable for bike thieves
Scrotes. They are everywhere and too many of them have an eye on your bike. Paranoid much? Yes, but EMTBs cost a small fortune and let’s face it, locked to the rails outside Tesco Express, they are a shiny shiny target for the light-fingered that skulk among us. But help may be at hand, at least if you are Dutch.
G4S (yes that G4S) has teamed up with Conneqtech and AXA Bike Security to develop a track and trace solution, AXA-IN, which is designed to deter thieves and deliver a precise location should they stupidly go ahead and steal your EMTB anyway. Of course, GPS trackers for bikes are nothing new, but AXA-IN is the first to really make use of the electronics in an e-bike to improve on the status quo.
The system is currently only available in The Netherlands on e-bikes made by Dutch manufacturer Sparta (not EMTBs, really doesn’t need a link). It requires a device to be hardwired into the electronics, which sends out a GPS signal of its location if it is reported stolen. As soon as the owner discovers that their bike has been pilfered, they can report it via the AXA-IN app on their smartphone. This alert goes through to the G4S control room in Amsterdam which can locate the e-bike via the GPS signal and work with the police to bring it back to its rightful owner.
Time is undoubtedly of the essence when a bike is stolen. So, with the agreement of the bike’s owner, G4S can use the AXA-IN device to create an ‘electronic fence’ around your bike when it stationary, either out and about or at home. It sends an automatic alert to the control centre if it unexpectedly moves, falls over or is removed from the indicated area.
“We can instantly locate the stolen bike using the GPS, our patrol guard verifies the position of the stolen bike and we have an agreement with the police that the recovery of vehicles with an alarm will be treated with high urgency,” explained Corinne Eeken, who oversees the project for G4S Monitoring & Patrol.
“The ‘electronic fence’ means that we can become aware that a theft is taking place straight away, and work with the police to apprehend the thief before the bike is taken” said Corinne. “If the thief does get away with the e-bike before police arrive, track and trace kicks in and we can guide the police to wherever the stolen bike is taken to.”
Likewise, being integral to a bike’s electronics, a thief would have to damage them to remove the tracker, making the whole exercise of stealing your bike a bit pointless. “The AXA-IN device is built into the e-bike and can’t be removed without causing significant damage to the bike and breaking it’s electrical circuit,” Corrine added.
Having recently reviewed the Hiplok E-DX and found it to be one tough cookie, I still couldn’t fathom why it is billed as being an E-bike + Cargo Bike specific locking system. Likewise, a slew of new products are coming through that manufacturers tell us are designed especially for e-bikes but when it comes down to it, a saddle is a saddle and handlebar grips are just that, regardless of the presence of an electric motor.
It’s interesting to find a system labelled as e-bike specific that actually is, and one that even improves on what is possible with a standard bike. Beyond the technology though, AXA-IN needs infrastructure and staff as well as law enforcement co-operation to make it work. For that reason, it may be some time before we see it in countries outside of The Netherlands, where e-bikes are three times more likely to be stolen than normal bikes, with the latest estimates showing that thefts have more than doubled in the last three years to around 25,000 a year.
But there is a chance that some of the big EMTB manufacturers will take note. And for those that feel AXA-IN may all be a bit ‘Big Brother’, especially with the involvement of G4S, just the existence of the system could be enough to make bike thieves think twice. So, you may not even need one yourself after a few dodgy fingers get burnt by it. Figuratively, not literally of course.