Two companies dealing in anti-theft vehicle tracking devices are changing the way they bug horseboxes because of the increasing numbers stolen.

A recent investigation by South Essex Insurance Brokers and Royal SunAlliance showed the number of vehicles stolen in 1999 was 300, an increase of 40 % on the year before. The total value was well over a million pounds.

It also showed that many thieves were only interested in the high-value horsebox body so scrapped the chassis with all its identifying marks within hours of the theft.

They then put the body on a legitimately bought, but mechanically doubtful chassis.

One of the company’s, RAC Trackstar, which uses satellite tracking, explains: “We’re aware that with horseboxes the body is most vulnerable, so we would fit it there.” Colin Patterson, marketing manager at Tracker, says: “In any vehicle we vary the position.

On trucks it isn’t always fitted to the chassis, but the customer would have to request that it be fitted in the body.”

Tracker uses a land-based system where the unit’s signals are picked up by specially equipped police cars. The company has also recently introduced Tracker Horizon, at a cost of around £499, plus £150 fitting, which combines with satellite tracking. Tracker believes that satellite alone is not enough because the signal can be affected by buildings.

For security reasons, neither company informs its customers where their units are hidden.

Tracker’s base system costs at around £199, plus about £70.

Both base systems require the owner to inform a control centre that the vehicle is missing.

For more details of Tracker devices contact ( tel:0500 090909) or visit theirsitewww.thankstotracker.co.uk

For RAC Trackstar contact (tel: 01234 759380) or visitwww.ractrackstar.com