Outdated GPS Tracking Devices in Charlotte’s Government Fleet Create Loophole For Dishonest Employees like Archer who was Caught Joyriding
In Charlotte, N.C., county fleet managers have been using GPS tracking devices for several years to manage their fleet of government vehicles. The tracking system overall seems to be working well and providing positive results.
However, there is a slight problem with the county’s GPS tracking devices, a loop hole for dishonest employees. The county’s GPS tracking devices are outdated, and can easily be detached, turned off, or tampered with.
After a local Fox 4 News viewer caught Charlotte County mosquito sprayer Stephen Archer joyriding in Sarasota, the county now says there’s not much in place to stop that from happening again.
“When the power’s off than the map’s not recording,” said Alan Holbach, the operations manager at Charlotte County Public Works. Archer used a low tech trick to go joyriding undetected – he just unplugged the Garmin GPS tracking system.
“It seems like it’s pretty easy to cheat the system right now,” said Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
“It is somewhat,” admitted Holbach. “But we have to rely on most people’s honesty and most people do what they’re supposed to do.”
He says it’s the main way they keep tabs on employees, like Archer, who was busted for driving around in the wrong county with open beer bottles.
“The incident shouldn’t have happened to begin with,” said Holbach. “But you get someone who isn’t honest and a GPS tracking device that’s easy to be tapered with that’s a bad combination isn’t it?,” asked Grant.
“Well,” said Holbach, ”it can be.”
Because of our investigation, the county is looking at new ways to track the vehicles you’re tax dollars are paying for.
Holbach says they are doing more random checks – matching GPS data with the truck’s miles looking for any missing gaps.
“If we have reason to believe somebody was not where they should be we have the records to go back and verify that,” said Holbach.
“But how do you know somebody else isn’t doing the same thing and just unplugging the GPS?,” asked Grant.
“Well here again we have the ability to match mileage,” said Holbach, ”and see that there’s more vehicle mileage than GPS mileage.”
Holbach says they can’t permanently install the GPS tracking devices because they need to be portable.
As for upgrading them? That could be a few years away.
“I think one of the current software’s we’re looking at had a price tag of about $150,000,” said Holbach. “And today’s economic climate obviously we’re not gonna be able to do that.”
He says they are temporarily doing 3-4 random inspections a week – but that will end soon because he says it takes away too much manpower.
Holbach says it is now a fireable offense to tamper with the truck’s GPS units. When asked why that policy wasn’t in place before, he said he never thought somebody would do that.
A modern GPS Tracking System like FieldLogix could prevent this from happening again, because the tracking equipment is installed inside the vehicle.
FieldLogix manages the entire equipment installation process from start to finish, and can even help if you need to move the tracking device from one vehicle to another.