Tacoma Public Utilities Recovers Stolen Truck Thanks to GPS Insight Technology
Tacoma Public Utilities wanted a reliable way to recover stolen or lost vehicles, and they found that exact solution with GPS tracking from GPS Insight.
Publicly owned since 1893, Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) provides safe, clean drinking water and electricity to more than 200,000 customers in Washington, as well as owns and operates a railroad. TPU manages approximately 1400 pieces of equipment, including heavy construction equipment, specially outfitted trucks, and boats. Currently, TPU uses GPS Insight tracking devices on 500 vehicles.
In a particular case, one night an F-250 Ford pickup disappeared from their property. They made the discovery the next morning when the work group manager sought out the supervisor to ask why the truck was missing from its normal parking spot.
“The supervisor responded that it wasn’t on the schedule for any maintenance, and they didn’t have it in the garage,” said Don Ashmore, six-year fleet manager at TPU. “He said, hang on a minute, let me look it up in GPS Insight and I’ll find out where it is.”
Instead of finding someone had just mistakenly left the truck in a different spot, they used GPS tracking to immediately discover the truck was parked at a local apartment complex.
“We started to do a little more investigating and pulling in some more information,” Ashmore said. “Using GPS Insight data, we mapped the truck’s path and could see when the truck left the yard, where it went, and where and when it stopped moving.”
Tracking It Down
Using this data, they also determined that before going to the apartment complex, the truck had stopped at a hospital in a nearby city.
“We already knew there was an accident that happened outside our gates the previous evening,” Ashmore said. “It was possible that someone left the scene of the accident and commandeered our vehicle. So using GPS Insight data, we were actually able to track the truck when it left the yard, to the hospital, to the apartment where it spent the night. We were able to track it to the exact current location due to the historical data that GPS Insight collects on our vehicles.”
In addition, TPU was able to turn over all the collected information to the police department.
“Since we were able to pin down the exact time it was taken from us, and when it was taken to the hospital, there’s the assumption the police would be able to use that data to locate the individual,” Ashmore said.
Though they were able to assist the police in their investigation, they were especially glad to recover the valuable vehicle.
Though this is the most recent incident, it’s not the first. Prior to 2020, a TPU worker stepped away from his vehicle to take a break, and his truck was stolen.
“We were able to utilize GPS Insight mapping data, real time data, and historical data to recover it from a strip yard,” Ashmore said. “We were in constant contact with the police department during the recovery.”
Having GPS data to make recoveries like these is just one of the many ways GPS Insight can provide value.
“We’re very thankful to have telematics data,” Ashmore said. “For me alone, it helps promote the use of them. It helps when I sit in front of executives and start talking about the cost savings and value of having telematics on our fleet, and one of them is being able to track and recover vehicles.”
TPU needs to run effectively at all times, including having the right tools.
“We can’t slow our process down, because we provide essential functions,” he said. “We need our equipment so we can efficiently do our jobs.”
A Variety of Benefits
Though GPS Insight provides solutions for incidents like these, it also works for TPU in ordinary ways each day. Consider:
Overall, GPS tracking has helped TPU save taxpayer dollars, improve dispatching, and significantly boost driver safety. And for Ashmore, the ongoing support from the GPS Insight team has played a key role in reaping all the benefits from the technology.
“We entered the relationship with very little or no knowledge of what telematics is and what telematics can do,” Ashmore says. “It’s been a benefit to learn as we go, and a great partnership… it comes down to the personnel working together with us to make sure we’re taken care of.”
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