By Charlie Morasch
Seeing an empty driveway instead of his white 2000 Freightliner, Karl called OOIDA’s TRACER hotline.
Fortunately for Karl, an owner-operator and OOIDA member from suburban Atlanta, he had installed a GPS in his truck. Not only that, but the veteran driver used computer software on his BlackBerry device to watch his truck moving on a map down Interstate 75 south from Atlanta.
Karl gave information from his BlackBerry to OOIDA investigator Kevin LaBranche, who relayed information to Georgia State Patrol.
“He could see direction of travel, speed and where it’s at on the highway right down to within three feet of the truck’s location,” LaBranche told Land Line.
Within 20 minutes, troopers had pulled over the truck and arrested two men from the truck’s cab. The truck’s trailer already had new cargo the thieves appeared to be moving for sale.
This spring, OOIDA launched TRACER, the Transportation Alert Communication and Emergency Response program. The program is a two-way communication system that sends alerts to members and coordinates information received from trucking members.
Just weeks into TRACER’s launch, the program had signed up more than 4,000 OOIDA members to receive a combination of e-mails, text messages and online alerts for truck thefts and other crimes affecting truckers.
In emergency situations, drivers should call 911 rather than TRACER, said Doug Morris, OOIDA’s director of security operations. The recovery of Karl’s truck, however, did show the TRACER program’s ability to connect truckers with law enforcement.
Morris said the system is set up to help OOIDA members who may be crime victims and to take advantage of technology and the vast number of Association members who are in public at a given time.
“We plan on truck theft being a key area that TRACER can help OOIDA members and law enforcement officers,” Morris told Land Line.
Morris urges truck drivers to keep a note card in their wallet with their truck’s vehicle identification number; make, model and year of their truck; insurance policy number; and the hotline for OOIDA’s TRACER program.
Those basic pieces of information may be the difference between a truck being tracked down and undamaged while it’s still within a particular county, or found much later after thieves have used it for their purposes, Morris said.
“The more specific the information and the quicker it is entered into the National Crime Information Center database – the faster law enforcement can do their jobs,” Morris said. “It’s easier for them to find a truck if it’s still within the county it was taken from.”
Truckers may call the TRACER hotline at 866-950-2291 or visit www.tracersystem.us to get the latest advisory or if they have information to report about stolen cargo or missing persons, etc.
TRACER posted several crime stories in the spring, including:
- Police in Connecticut are asking for the public’s help to locate a person of interest in a homicide investigation after a man was found dead in a trailer parked at a truck stop on April 17. Police found the body of Dale Lynn Anderson, 47, of Redlands, CA in a trailer at a TA truck stop on I-95 in Branford, CT. Anderson reportedly suffered a skull fracture, and may have been killed in Connecticut.
- Virginia State Police credited media sources for helping them identify and charge two North Carolina men in the shootings of three tractor-trailers along Interstate 77 in southwest Virginia.
TRACER, the only two-way multi-platform communication system geared for truckers, posted pictures about a person of interest and information regarding the April 16 shootings in Carroll County, VA.
No drivers were injured in the shooting, but tips from the public helped identify Leon Rubio-Gonzales, 26, and his brother, Emilio Rubio-Gonzales, 24, both of North Carolina, for their role in the shootings. Both men face two counts of attempted murder.
To sign up for TRACER, call OOIDA headquarters at 1-800-444-5791. LL