Text First, Call 911 Later: This Could Be the New Protocol for Carjacking Victims

It’s hard to believe but new, developing technologies could have carjacking victims reaching for their phones to send a text before they even think about calling the police.

It’s all because of a Nairobi-based car security company called Sunrise Tracking.

The company has developed new technology that allows consumers to take matters into their own hands when their car is stolen.

In addition to being able to track the vehicle’s location, consumers would also be able to shut down the vehicle and prevent thieves from getting too far.

There are many services that allow the everyday person to track their car’s location, but the ability to shut down the vehicle from a simple text message is quite revolutionary.

Currently, this type of technology is reserved for police forces and often used on bait cars.

Bait cars are vehicles planted by police in order to capture would-be car thieves before they can target everyday civilians.

Sunrise Tracking founder, 23-year-old Kelvin Macharia Kuria, explained the technology to African Start-Up.

“Once a stop command has been sent to the vehicle, the hardware understands the language of that command and immediately cuts acceleration fuel function,” he said. “The vehicle immobilizes immediately until a resume command is send to mobilize back the car.”

It’s unusual to see such a young entrepreneur coming up with such innovative technologies for security, but the young entrepreneur quickly explained why this was so important to him.

“The reason I decided to venture into the business of security is simply because immediately after high school one of my relatives was carjacked,” he told African Start-Up. “And it was unfortunate we were not able to recover the vehicle.”

Later his own office was broken into and the thieves managed to escape with tons of electronics.

At that point the push for better security technologies became even more personal.

Today, Macharia Kuria has managed to obtain more than 500 clients.

While he hopes to continue to grow his clientele, he is also very well aware of the obstacles he will face trying to grow the business in Kenya.

“Being a young entrepreneur of course is a very huge challenge in terms of financials, in terms of your starting a business,” he said. “The other challenge that we are facing currently is that not many people are willing to adopt the locally made products within Kenya … Carjacking and robbery in Kenya and particularly in Nairobi is so high, but since security is so sensitive clients opt to go for big and international companies having in mind only such companies can give them better quality service hence killing the local innovation products.”

There could be yet another obstacle he will have to face as well.

While the ability to shut down a car with nothing more than a text sounds exciting and innovative, technology experts caution that it can be abused in the long run.

“In the past, hackers have exploited security weaknesses in mobile locator devices to monitor movements and patterns of a vehicle and even impersonate it,” said Chris Brauer, the director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London. “In the short term, mobile security devices with mainstream appeal and price points will reduce carjacking and thefts. In the longer term, it all depends on whether the security providers can stay one step ahead of the hackers and thieves.”