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Victorian cops to track stolen cars via GPS

The opt-in program will see some vehicles in Melbourne's south-east fitted with GPS sensors to track stolen cars.

Car thieves in Melbourne's south-east may be tracked by Victoria Police as part of an opt-in trial involving hidden GPS tracking devices that report back in real-time.

Opting in to the Vehicle Tracking Initiative will see a sensor device installed free of charge at a handful of dealerships in the state's Greater Dandenong and surrounding areas.

Owners with the devices fitted will then be able to synchronise the tracking device to an app on their smartphone, which will send an alert if the vehicle is moved from a set location.

If the vehicle is stolen, the owner can use the app to alert police, who can then live-track the vehicle before intervening, a statement from Minister for Police Lisa Neville explained.

The trial, initially announced back in July, is expected to reduce car theft and deter would-be thieves. Although publicly announcing the trail, Neville said potential thieves won't know which cars have had the device installed or where to look.

"The tracking devices are the size of about half a matchbox, which means they can be hidden anywhere on the car. Thieves won't know where to look for the device, or which vehicles have the technology installed," Neville said on Thursday.

Assistant Police Commissioner Robert Hill said previously that many vehicles already have the technology available, noting it is just the interface between the law enforcement body and the private sector that is needed to bring it to life.

"Vehicles can be tracked anywhere across the state, the nation, and the globe if required," he said. "The owner of the [stolen] car, through their iPhone, will activate the device, contact police via tripe zero, and we will start tracking that device from our monitoring and assessment centre, and when it's safe to do, our police will intervene and apprehend those responsible."

The so-called "game-changing" one-year trial is a joint initiative from the state's police force and the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council. The council is funded by Australian governments around the country and recently received a two-year funding package of more than AU$590,000 to make it happen.

The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council will then look to extend the trial across the state, with an evaluation of the initiative to be completed in 2019-20.

"If I had a magic wand, each and every car in Victoria would not only have the GPS devices fitted but also an immobilisation device fitted, so from a command centre we could not only track the vehicle, but also immobilise it, stop it in its tracks," Hill added.

Phases two and three of the project will involve working with vehicle manufacturers to install, activate, and retrofit vehicles with the tracking technology.

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