Uses Growing For GPS In Cars - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/15/04 - East Texas

Uses Growing For GPS In Cars

They come standard on many new cars and some lenders are even putting them on used ones. Global positioning systems are becoming more and more popular these days. They're not only helping companies keep track of your car, they are also being used to catch bad guys.

In early March, a former radio station manager in Mt. Pleasant was wanted for allegedly taping underage girls while they used the restroom. After being questioned by Titus County Sheriff's investigators, he left East Texas. Investigators used a GPS on the car the man was leasing to locate him in Louisiana.

Detective Gary King works for the Tyler Police Department. He's assigned to the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force, a group dedicated to deterring people from stealing cars. He said it is becoming an invaluable tool for law enforcement officers.

"Our biggest challenge is receiving information whether it's through an individual or some type of evidence on where the vehicle may be," he said. "(GPS) is a great benefit to law enforcement."

Police aren't the only ones using the systems to track people and cars down. Scott Cole manages the South Broadway location for Classic Toyota. He said he plans to start selling vehicles with GPS on them within the next month.

"We are looking at a product that allows us to put more cars on the road," he said. "(GPS) is a great thing that you can go out and you can find the car immediately."

For a lender, the motive is a little different. Cole said keeping track of the car helps save money. He said privacy comes in a distant second.

"It's not going to be an issue," he said. "If they want the automobile and we decided to go that route, and go with the upscale model, that's what's going to be on the car."

Detective King hasn't heard any complaints so far, and does not expect to anytime soon.

"Very few vehicles are equipped with it right now, but I think it's something that's going to get a lot bigger in the future."

That means more people keeping track of you and your vehicle.

The most popular GPS type system on the market today is the Onstar system with more than 12 million customers nationwide. Right now, Onstar helps police when one of their customers' cars is stolen, but makes authorities get a subpoena for other circumstances.

If the system is put on the car by a lender, it's up to them whether to cooperate with police.

Chris Gibson, reporting
cgibson@kltv.com

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