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RFID Halts Theft at Toronto Car Dealership

The luxury car retailer is using EPC Gen 2 RFID technology to track the keys to all of its vehicles, reducing the risk of lost keys and stolen vehicles.
By Claire Swedberg
May 07, 2008A car dealership in Toronto is employing a security system that prevents theft of its luxury, high-priced cars by alerting office management when a key has not been returned following its removal from a secure case at the dealership. The system, provided by AVS Key and Inventory Solutions Inc., utilizes an RFID system from Ship2Save that incorporates Impinj RFID interrogators, antennas and tags, and is built on the Microsoft BizTalk platform. For security purposes, the car dealership has asked to remain unnamed.

AVS' president, Anoop Sharma, says he developed a relationship with Toronto auto dealers while working as a police officer investigating car theft, and also as a customer. According to Sharma, one dealership owner indicated he was experiencing theft of his vehicles—both at night, when the business was closed, and during the day while it was still open. Three years ago, Sharma established AVS Surveillance as a company that brings in its own guards to provide nighttime security services to dealerships. However, he says, although AVS provided nighttime services to the Toronto dealer, car thefts continued to occur during the day.

Amninder Singh
Typically, Sharma says, members of organized crime target a specific type of vehicle, such as a Lexus or BMW. When returning a vehicle's key after a test drive, a potential thief takes that key and replaces it with a counterfeit one. Then, using the authentic key, the criminal can steal the car—often in the middle of the day—and drive it onto a truck, thereby quickly removing the vehicle from view. "This is a problem across North America," Sharma says.

In other cases, employees would put keys in their pockets and forget to return them, then take the keys home, or lose them, requiring that the dealership order replacement keys. Car theft costs the dealership about $420,000 per year, says Amninder Singh, Ship2Save's director of product development, and lost keys cost $2,000 annually.

AVS can eliminate both costs, Sharma claims. AVS' Ship2save system, installed one month ago, includes a custom-built key cabinet with an automatic lock. Each of the approximately 200 keys within the cabinet has a tamper-proof passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag affixed to it with an Impinj EPC Gen 2 chip storing an encrypted unique ID number. The tag becomes inoperable if anyone attempts to remove it from the key, breaking an antenna in the process. Built into the cabinet is an Impinj Speedway RFID reader that constantly captures the ID numbers of those tags.

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