But this probably won’t change much of anything…
Car thefts are completely out of control in North America and elsewhere. The National Insurance Crime Bureau says 880,595 vehicles were stolen in the US during 2020, or about one swiped every 36 seconds, marking an increase from the 794,019 reported stolen in 2019. We expect 2021 will bring an even bigger total. And while car theft is a huge problem, so is people just taking expensive items out of vehicles, especially truck beds, a problem Ford wants to solve with the help of home security giant ADT.
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In an alliance which sounds like something dreamed up by The Babylon Bee but that is completely real, Ford and ADT have teamed up to launch a venture called Canopy. Combining the professional security monitoring expertise of ADT with the AI-driven camera tech of Ford apparently is going to stop people from swiping tools, outdoor equipment, and other valuables from truck beds and cargo vans.
Excuse me if I’m a little cynical, but doorbell cameras haven’t wiped out porch pirates. Instead, plenty of people have high-quality video of thieves swiping their packages, and that’s about it. I expect now we’ll just see a lot of disturbing videos of thieves walking away with power tools, mountain bikes, and whatever else they can grab.
Stolen work equipment is a huge problem in the US, with the FBI estimating $7.4 billion worth of equipment was stolen in 2020 alone. These crimes hurt small business and contractors the most since they can’t absorb the cost of the equipment lost and insurance might not cover the replacement of everything.
Ford released a video showing off Canopy, and while it looks cool to the average person, the reality is it probably will change little. A guy slinks around some vehicles parked on a residential street, ultimately reaching for some tools in the bed of a truck. That’s when an alert is pushed to the owner’s smartphone, who uses the speaker in the camera to tell the would-be thief to “get away from my truck!” The guy then hurries off like there’s a cop with a taser and a judge eager to lock him up for a few years hot on his trail.
Eventually, Canopy aims to secure not only truck beds and the cargo areas in vans but the exterior and interior of any number of vehicles. The video even shows a scary-looking guy in a ski mask with a laptop defeating a car’s security system. It sure sounds great, what with all this crime we’ve been enduring.
The sad reality is many law enforcement officials I’ve spoken to and others which have been interviewed by other outlets say the same thing: they arrest the same thieves over and over. These guys often are let out of jail on little or no bail, then they immediately go out and steal even more stuff. Once they do have their day in court, they often receive a light punishment. So the cops can catch these thieves all they want, it seems to do little good in the long run.
While Canopy sounds like a really nifty solution, it will only help increase the cost of vehicles and fatten the profit margins of Ford and others who offer it. It’s like locking up your bikes in the bed of your truck so you can supposedly enjoy a meal in a restaurant after going for a ride in a wilderness area: you might feel you’re protecting your stuff and it might keep the average person honest, but a professional thief won’t be the least bit deterred by such things. Don’t worry, though, because plenty of automotive journalists have already declared the problem of equipment theft solved before Canopy delivers a single product to consumers.