Attaching a covert tracker to a vehicle can provide information about the drivers travel routes, habits, place of employment, family member and associate locations or a new residence or vacation home address.
A tracking device does not replace a physical surveillance crew, it is an additional piece of equipment that allows investigators to increase the following distance from a target, decreasing the chance of accidental discovery. If the target is a reckless driver, investigators can follow from a safe distance.
During a surveillance of a high-threat suspect that requires the vehicle route and location to be closely monitored, a tracking device can warn a surveillance team that a suspect is moving and approaching a protected site or person.
Covert radio-electronic vehicle tracking devices have been a valuable tool to aid in a visual surveillance for decades.
Original "bumber beepers" used by investigators would transmit a low-powered radio signal that could be tracked from a few hundred yards away. In the 1990's these devices were replaced with computer dial-up systems using cellular transmitters that triangulated the location as it traveled between antenna towers.
Today's state-of-the-art tracking systems use the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) and radio-electronic tracking devices. The satellites transmit location data over microwave signals to the GPS enabled tracking device, it is then sent to computer servers over a radio frequency or cellular network where the recorded data is converted allowing the end user to view the to the device location, direction of travel, speed and ignition status on mapping software over an internet connected computer, tablet or smart phone.
Section 750.539l of the Michigan Compiled Laws makes it a misdemeanor offense to install a device on a vehicle to track its location without the knowledge and consent of the owner, however, the law exempts Law Enforcement and Licensed Private Investigators during the performance of a legal investigation.
A copy of the Michigan vehicle tracking law is available below.