Car owners get wise and immobilise

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 March, 1993, 12:00am

IT SEEMS Hongkong is not the only place suffering an epidemic of car thefts.

According to British statistics, more than half a million vehicles are stolen in the UK each year.

About half of these are later recovered, but with a stolen vehicle 200 times more likely to be involved in an accident, many are in less than pristine condition.

In response to this, and demands from insurance companies for cars to be better protected, many motorists are moving to anti-theft immobiliser devices.

An immobiliser acts to paralyse a car's internal workings and prevent it being driven away, as distinct from an alarm, and so overcomes the noisy problem of sirens sounding accidently.

Vecta technical services manager, Mr John Edwards, said his company's immobiliser system has proved successful in Britain, with 30,000 sold every year and not a single car lost under its own power.

Vecta can be connected to a maximum of eight systems - depending on a car's sophistication - such as the transmission, ignition or an engine's computer management system.

It is hidden from view and is fed through a vehicle's wiring loom. None of the system's leads are marked, and some are ''dumb''. In addition, the system can work independently of the car's battery.

Each system comes with a one-off key, plus two spares. Once the car has been opened, the driver has 30 seconds to slot the Vecta key in and for the laser-etched code to be accepted. An LED indicator shows if the system is activated and the car can be started.

The wiring configuration of each Vecta immobiliser varies from car to car. Only the fitter concerned will know exactly where the system is housed and what it is connected to.

It takes about three hours to install, and a secret record is kept for servicing needs.

A number of Vecta variations are being worked on, including a long-range owner-paging system and a version called ''Fight Back'', designed for less-sophisticated cars.

Mr Edwards was reluctant to reveal many details about the new device, other than to say ''things will happen''.