New technology to guard your assets

Updated: August 3, 2011

If criminals can bypass alarm systems, armed-guard patrols and safe codes – microdotting might be the technology needed to make a dent in car hijackings and the theft of valuable goods.

A cutting edge and growing form of asset protection, microdotting – where items of value are dotted with a unique identification number – has been touted to help reduce the high levels of vehicle theft and hijackings.

This is a “relatively” new technology in South Africa, expected to be passed into law early next year.

The microdots make it easier to identify a recovered vehicle, apart from using the vehicle’s identification number (VIN).

People will still be able to “retrofit” their vehicles, as well as their assets.

Eddie Mokhoanatse, spokesman for Microdot SA, one of the leaders in the campaign for the technology, said microdots were useful in the fight against vehicle, household and business crimes.

“As long as an asset has the microdot, it can be traced to the rightful and legitimate owner and it will be harder for the parts to be resold,” he said.

Microdots, he said, can also be applied to items such as laptops and diamond rings.

The tiny dots – the size of a pin head – are applied using an ultraviolet adhesive.

It contains a microscopic 17-digit laser-etched VIN or PIN to identify an asset and, in turn, its owner.

This number is only visible through a magnifying lens under an ultraviolet light.

The asset is then registered under the owner’s name on a national database so that if it is stolen, it can be identified and returned.

There is a once-off fee and no monthly instalments or subscriptions, according to Microdot SA.

Mokhoanatse said microdots had been found to be useful overseas.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have been widely using this technology for several years.


Sean Peterson, an independent agent for Veridot, another supplier of the microdot system, also said electronic equipment such as televisions and cellphones could be marked.

“Signs warning that items have been marked with microdots serve as a deterrence to criminals,” he said.

Louise Taljaard, general manager of The Vehicle Security Association of South Africa (Vesa), said microdots were useful for the identification of vehicles that lay in chop shops, that had been stolen or found as being stolen at road blocks.

“Legislation could also assist in the prevention of chop shops and assist with identifying grey parts in serviced vehicles.

“Only one dot is required to identify the original owner of the part or vehicle and that is what makes this standard so well accepted by crime prevention bodies,” she said.

Taljaard said there were companies going through the Vesa-audit process, which would provide the vehicle safety industry with more approved service providers to microdot vehicles. - The Independent on Saturday

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