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Anti theft GPS Tracking for your car without a monthly subscription

June 5, 2017

If you have ever tried to find anti theft options for your car you probably know that you basically have two options:

One time payment transmitter based systems such as Lojack – old style system, pre GPS and pre modern cellular network technology. These systems depend on the supplier to hide a transmitter in your car with an antenna and a backup battery.

For this type of system the police vehicle has to be equipped with specialty Lojack hardware. Considering the vehicle has to be within 5 miles of the tracking hardware, the effectiveness of such a system in any particular area is heavily dependent on how heavily the local police department has adopted this system. Currently only 29 states in the US have adopted this; but that definitely doesn’t mean all police departments within that state or any smaller police departments in rural areas.

Instead of getting an exact track on the stolen vehicle, the receiving hardware in the police vehicles get a Hot/Cold ping, to which they try to get closer and closer; because of this, sometimes if a signal is captured, it still may not lead to a recovery of the vehicle if the vehicle is moving and goes outside of the 5 mile perimeter.

The other option is modern GPS based tracking. The benefit of GPS tracking is that it is live, on demand, precise and has no limitation to where it can be activated and tracked. The largest down side to this system however is that you have to continuously pay a subscription service. The subscription service is in essence a monthly data plan which allows the GPS module to transmit its data over the cellular network to the tracking computer or device.

Neither sat well with me, so I conspired to figure out how I could have GPS based tracking without having to pay a monthly subscription service and this is how:

1. First we will need any old cellphone that has GPS tracking ability, I used an old Samsung S4 I had laying around. For context, an S4 is currently selling for ~$60 on ebay, but again, any android phone with GPS will work.

2. Next a micro USB hardwire kit to continuously charge the phone. The kit wires in easily to a power and a ground wire in your car; such as the radio, or any other power/ground. The battery in the phone will sustain without charging for roughly 7 days, so if you drive your car semi regularly, this should suffice. If you drive your car less often, you can either get a larger battery which can hold its own charge for closer to 3-4 weeks or you can wire the power to a wire that is live even when the ignition is in the off position (or directly to the battery).

3. A prepaid pay per use sim card which only has voice and text (or just text if available) capabilities; no data required:

4. A GPS to text app such as “GPS SMS Phone Finder”; what this app allows you to do is send a text message to the receiving phone and that phone will automatically reply by text message its current GPS location with no data used! The prepaid sum on the sim card is only used if the phone is used at a rate of usually 10c or 25c a text message; but you only use that prepaid sum if you need to track the car (such as in the case that it is stolen).


That’s it, now you have a dependable anti theft GPS based system without having to pay a subscription service to anyone!

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