Buzz Lightyear becomes a real hero when the toy helps track down thieves of local charity donation bins.

In Atlanta, the Mid-Atlantic Clothing (MAC) Recycling center has noticed a severe drop in donations over the past several months. They have several donation bins around Atlanta, in places like shopping centers and churches. People bring clothing, toys, and other items to donate to the organization by placing them in these bins. Unfortunately, donations are up, but the items in the bins are still going down.

What’s up with that?

The territory manager of donations, Tim Peck, told reporters of the issue with their donations:

“Our donations were down, and down a lot, as much as 35 percent. It’s tens of thousands of dollars if not more. It’s a lot of money.”

They believed the severe drop in donations was because of items being stolen from the donation bins. There are often bags of clothing and toys left in the bins overnight, which is when there is little security in the surrounding areas and puts their bins at risk. An experienced thief can easily get into these bins and remove items to later sell on their own. It has become a major problem not just for this organization, but many other recycling bin drop-off locations in Atlanta.

Since they believed that theft must be the cause of such a considerable drop, they decided to incorporate global positioning systems technology with a GPS tracking devices hidden in several different items included in the collection bins.
A stuffed Buzz Lightyear toy was one of the items with a hidden tracker, and happened to be the one that helped catch the thieves.

The GPS tracker works by detecting movement of the item and sending an alert via text to a connected smartphone, which, in this case, was Peck’s cell phone. One night, he got an alert saying the item was being moved from a collection bin location in Douglasville, Georgia. He promptly called the Douglasville Police, who sent officers to the location where the tracker was telling them to go.

Police were led to a garage in Douglasville, which had a truck backed into it and a man by the name of Everette Barton unloading items into the garage. Police said it looked as if he was sorting all of the stolen items. Barton was arrested on the spot and all of the stolen donations were returned to the charity organization.

Peck also mentioned there being around 100 other GPS trackers, so they hope that they either catch more criminals, or this arrest deters other criminals from attempting the theft. Surprisingly enough, even after this first arrest, his GPS trackers have found competing organizations stealing items from his donation bins and putting items in their company truck. Hopefully thieves catch wind of the arrests and don’t bother attempting another theft.

Delivery trucks are profitable targets for thieves. They are often filled with new products direct from the manufacturer, on their way to market. And the trucks themselves are tempting. These are valuable vehicles that can be repainted and sold or broken up for parts.

Each time a truck is lost, you face the risk of higher insurance premiums. Sadly, many law enforcement agencies are so overburdened with serious criminal acts, it is considered a low-priority crime. Since it gets little attention, it can be tempting to simply turn it over to your insurance agent.

Preventative Approaches to Deal with Theft

A better way is to set up a practical plan to keep your trucks safe from criminal activity, both on the road and in the parking lot.

Here are seven suggestions that should be part of every fleet manager’s program for ensuring truck safety.

#1. Remove the keys.  This seems simplistic, but it’s amazing how often it happens. Since they are parked on the company premises, often away from urban areas with high crime, it seems like a good way to save time by simply leaving the keys in the ignition. But don’t. You’re inviting thieves to steal it.

#2. Put lots of lights in your parking area. This deters thieves, especially when combined with obvious surveillance cameras. Good lighting makes it easier for security staff to keep an eye on truck safety and spot intruders.

#3. Park in lighted areas.  If the truck isn’t returned to the company premises at night, teach drivers to park in well lighted areas, even if he has to drive a few blocks out of his way.

#4. Use GPS fleet tracking software.  Among many other benefits, GPS fleet tracking devices can dramatically cut back on hijacking and break ins. The vehicle sounds an alarm both at the truck and at the security desk. Criminals are leery of any truck that looks like it is equipped with this technology.

#5.  Don’t leave trucks running.  It is tempting to do this while the driver runs in to check with the loading dock or get some coffee. It’s the perfect time for a criminal to take off with the truck. The entire crime takes just a minute.

#6. Put valuables out of sight. Just like the family car, trucks are the target of opportunists who see laptops and mobiles sitting on seat or dashboard. Put them under the seat, in a locked box or behind the seat out of sight.

#7. Keep doors locked at all times. This includes when the truck is being driven and when it is parked. Hijackers are skilled, opening a door and forcing the driver out in seconds. A locked door is a good deterrent.

In an effort to curb the killing of thousands of bird each year from offshore wind farms, scientists have fitted ten Bewick’s swans with GPS tracking equipment in order to map out their yearly migration from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) center along the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border of the UK to their Arctic Russian breeding grounds.

The data collected from the migration study will alert windfarm developers where they should place the enormous turbines in order to reduce their risks of affecting the migration routes of the swans.

Bewick swans are the smallest and rarest of UK’s swans. Since 1995, more than one third of the species has disappeared, dropping their number from 29,000 to 18,000 total population by 2010.

Part of the hope is that with the data from this project, which is being conducted by WWT on behalf of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, that wind farmers can be convinced to at least turn their turbines off during the migratory season and steer clear of migratory paths for these beautiful birds when developing future wind farm locations.

Researchers feel confident farmers will be willing to do their part to help. They just need the data to show the exact patterns so that all parties can explore logical, ethical alternatives.

They’re attaching the GPS tracking devices to the swans through an approach called cannon netting. This practice takes the safety of the swans into account and simply place cannon nets in the fields where the birds feed and fire the nets over the birds to hold them in place until they can get there to attach the “jackets” which contain the GPS devices (after checking the birds to ensure they’re in good health).

The weight of the collars is similar to that of humans carrying around mobile phones so no harm is expected to come of the birds from wearing these jackets.

Two of the birds that have been jacketed have already left to begin their migrations. Katy Smith, assistant warden at WWT believes that the Bewick’s swans are a great creature for this type of project and is excited to see this glimpse into their lives and migratory patterns.

Of course, the ultimate goal of the project is to ensure that the beautiful Bewick’s swan is able to live a long and healthy diet and to promote the population of the species.

About Live View GPS

We specialize in real time GPS tracking systems. GPS tracking, GPS monitoring and management for vehicles, assets, equipment, property and persons. Whether your needs are consumer or commercial based, personal or business related we have a cost effective GPS tracking solution for you. Locate in real-time and on demand vehicles, people and property from any web based computer. View these locations on our systems integrated maps. Our GPS devices are the real deal, they are tested and proven, they work.

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