Knowledge Base

Tracking your vehicle with a GPS tracker and giffgaff


Hi Everyone,


Today I want to talk about vehicle crime and how you can help protect your vehicle with a low-cost GPS tracker and a giffgaff SIM card. Over 77,000 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales between July 2014 and July 2015, That’s nearly 1,500 a week. Below is a table with the full data breakdown from 2004-2015 from the Office for National Statistics:


Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 14.02.55.pngTable Source: Office for National Statistics


The easiest way for the police to find these vehicles is to follow them using a tracker. However, commercial car tracking companies can charge hundreds of pounds for installation and a yearly fee for tracking your vehicle. One such system is Tracker Cat 5 Plus, which costs £698 fully installed and £199 a year subscription (correct as of 2nd Feb 2016). Why not track your vehicle yourself with the help of giffgaff for much less?


You can purchase a range of ‘Car GPS Trackers’ on Amazon and eBay. The one I have on my 2007 Smart ForTwo is the ‘XCSOURCE Vehicle Tracker Real-time Locator GPS/GSM/GPRS/SMS Tracking Motorcycle Car Bike Antitheft AH207’. This tracker is currently available for £14.98 (correct as of 2nd Feb 2016) from Amazon.


Here is an information and purchase link if you are interested in getting this tracker:


IMG_1.jpgPicture Source: XCSOURCE (Amazon)


These trackers sit out the way under your dashboard and connect directly to the battery of your vehicle, so it is always powered even if the vehicle is not running. You simply insert an active SIM card into the tracker and follow the instructions in the information booklet to set it up a passcode for the tracker. You can then send a text to the trackers mobile phone number. After about a minute you will then receive a text back with the location of the vehicle on a Google Maps, The vehicles current speed, the time, date and the tracker's IMEI number. This information can then be passed to the police to help them find your vehicle.


IMG_2.jpgScreenshot of my texts to and from my tracker


Some trackers also feature real-time tracking, showing the location information in real time via GPRS (TCP/IP), supports Android, IOS and web. Note this will use data and will likely cost more than receiving the information on-demand via SMS.


As we are using a standard giffgaff SIM card the same rules apply to keep the SIM card active as it does if you are using it in a mobile phone. giffgaff will consider a SIM card to be inactive if it hasn’t been used in six months. To keep your SIM and account active, you need to have completed at least one of the following actions within the last six months:

  • Make at least one call, SMS or MMS to another number
    (This does not including calls to Emergency Services or Member Services)
  • Make at least one connection to the Internet
  • Make at least one Airtime Credit or goodybag / gigabag purchase


If none of the above actions have been done, then your number will have been disconnected,  all remaining credit will have been lost and your tracker will not work. Let's take a look at the cost breakdown if we include a £10 giffgaff top-up every six months:



Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 18.51.12.pngPricing correct as of 2nd Feb 2016


I would recommend sending your tracker a text or making a call to it (which will send you a text) to make sure it's working. Let me know in the comments if you have a tracker on your vehicle, are thinking of getting one or if you have ever had a vehicle stolen and found it using a tracker.  Also, check out other ways to protect your vehicle including using a dash cam or a video recording App on your phone. Including this blog post on AutoGuard from flaxvert.


Thanks for reading,








Carl produces websites, apps and videos. View his latest work at


grand master

Looks like a good project Smiley Happy


Really interesting topic @carlryds, it does seem much cheaper to use a GPS tracker and a £10 goodybag with giffgaff. Nice find.


How do you think GPS and vehicle trackers will progress in terms of technology, and popularity? Do you think there will be a way to see exactly where your car is, like something through Google Streetview, in real time?


@mitchell98 I'm hopeful that things like GPS trackers and dashcams will be built into cars directly, imagine cameras built into the cars body pillars from all angles to help fight insurance fraud and like you say, the ability to track a vehicle in real time, speed, etc - this would be really good for parents who want to keep an eye on their kids driving when they first get behind the wheel.


However, If they are provided by the cars manufacturer, I have a feeling they will come with expensive monthly or yearly service charges.

I think it's a good project! Maybe in future it will be possible to see exactly where your vehicle is. And I agree that the ability to track a vehicle in real time wuold help parents. I would be happy if I could protect my son using GPS tracker. So, I look forward for progress in this field.


@immortalalex @mitchell98 On the trackers Amazon page I linked to it does say it supports "Real-time tracking, show location information automatically(supports Android/IOS APP, web/WAP)." I haven't actually played with that myself on mine, I find the SMS way of receiving the information meets my needs. However, I would suspect the real-time tracking will use alot of data and will likely cost more than receiving the information on-demand via SMS, so instead of a £10 top-up every six months, you'll probably need a £10 goodybag each month for the data. Definitely, something I'm going to look into, as I'm curious how well it works and how much data it uses.


Not a bad DIY solution, but a professional car theif will find this sort of device in under 60 seconds. The reason why the are cheap 8s that they are really not very good.


A few years ago most cars were really easy to break into (and I mean easy) so under pressure, manufacturers beefed up security and brought in the chipped ignition key and other features which make it more difficult for the thieves. Now they break into your house and steal the keys which in most cases is worse than just taking the car. 


I personally wouldn't want a car returned that has been driven around by some lunatic or used in crime.


I don't want to know where my car is when its been stolen as I don't really want it back Smiley Happy Smiley Happy


I can't agree with your reasoning. So long as the car has not been damaged I would definitely want it back.

Which way is it to the town centre please?



Decent idea with pros and cons.

It's effectiveness is limited by the installation which in many cases won't be difficult. However, professionally fitted trackers are normally in known or recommended locations so it could be a plus. Another plus (assuming it's stolen) is lack of stickers alerting the thief that it is tracked.


it's still too large to be truly effective on motorbikes and I'm guessing not many GiffGaffers run around in Bentleys, Astons or similar ilk so if we have a car stolen, it's possibly not for shipping, breaking or ringing and more likely an opportunistic thing.


I think the most probable use is for checking on a suspected cheating spouse.Smiley Wink