If you’re thinking about tracking a vehicle using a GPS device, the iTrail makes a great option. The iTrail is a compact passive GPS device made by SleuthGear that can easily be planted in a car, in a child’s backpack, or just about anyplace else you need. If you are planning to use one on a vehicle you should be aware of the proper way to place it. There are both technical and legal issues to be concerned about.
To begin with, GPS devices don’t work very well when surrounded by metal surfaces. Such services block the signal between the device and the satellite thus resulting in signal drops and data loss. When installing on the exterior of a vehicle your best choices include:
- behind the plastic in the wheel wells
- under a plastic bumper
- attached to a side rail with a magnetic case
- behind the grill
Quite a few users choose to install a GPS tracking device in the trunk in order to keep it out of the weather as well as reduce the likelihood that the driver will find it inside the cabin. But the trunk is perhaps one of the worst places for the iTrail. Without window access, the trunk is completely surrounded by the metal body of the car, making it nearly impossible for the satellite signal to be received.
If your iTrail doesn’t necessarily have to be hidden the best place to mount it is right on the dashboard. Use some double-sided tape or Velcro strips for this application. This allows for a clean signal exchange through the glass without interruption. If the dash is not an option you might consider a cup holder or the area carpeted behind the rear seat if you’re driving a sedan.
If you are installing the iTrail on your own personal vehicle there are no restrictions. You can do so at any time and for any reason. If you plan to use the tracking device on a vehicle you do not own the following regulations are generally applicable in most states:
- the vehicle must be viewable in public space when the device is installed
- you must install it without having to enter the vehicle
- it must be installed without causing any physical damage to any part of the vehicle
- you must be able to install it without trespassing on personal property
- you must be using the tracker ONLY to obtain the same information you could get from physically observing the vehicle’s movement
In essence, planting an iTrail on a vehicle you don’t own requires you to do it in a public place using either magnets, plastic ties, or some other noninvasive method. For this reason most people planning to do so will buy a magnetic case for easy installation in a matter of seconds.
One last thing to think about when considering using iTrail on a vehicle you don’t own: the retrieval process. Make sure you can retrieve it without trespassing on private property.