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Millbrook 2019
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July 03 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Operators advised how to prevent Sprinter thefts

Converter EVM says that OBD port protector is worthwhile; an option is a Category 5 tracking device

Grange Travel of Gravesend is among those operators targeted by thieves

Minicoach and minibus converter EVM has offered advice to operators of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based vehicles to help them prevent becoming victims of the rash of thefts of the model.

A significant number of Sprinter minicoaches have been stolen over the past three years, but more recently the frequency of the thefts has increased. Incidents have included both converted and coachbuilt models. It is not known what happens to the vehicles after they are stolen.

“When the thefts began, we understood that criminals went underneath the vehicle and replaced the factory ECU with one of their own.

“They would then access the cab with a key that matched the replacement ECU and be able to start the engine,” says EVM Director Danny McGee.

“Around two years ago we started to fit a stainless steel ECU guard, equipped with tamper-proof bolts. That stopped the ECU from being removed. We have fitted it to every EVM vehicle since then.”

More recently, thieves have found a way to start Sprinters with a computer or other device via the OBD port, accessed via a door window. They also break the steering lock, allowing the vehicle to be driven away. It is understood that a Sprinter can be stolen within minutes using this method.

Mr McGee suggests that 90% of Sprinter thefts are now carried out via the OBD port method. The remainder are undertaken by physically lifting the vehicle or accessing the original keys.

He adds that Sprinter operators should consider installing a tamper-proof OBD port protector that blocks access. A Category 5 tracker is a further option; it cannot be removed from the vehicle, but typically costs more than an OBD port protector.

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