EarthSearch Communications Inc. is launching a new GPS-based vehicle-tracking device that will make auto theft a thing of the past -- and EarthSearch has done so several months before chief competitor OnStar plans to begin offering a similar device in 2009 GM vehicles.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a vehicle is stolen in the United States every 26 seconds. "Not anymore," said Kay Aladesuyi, president and CEO of EarthSearch. "The only way a car thief can steal a vehicle equipped with one of our devices is by towing it -- and we have an alert for that, too. We don't just find stolen vehicles; we provide the tool to stop the theft."

Each time a vehicle owner exits and locks the automobile, the vehicle owner can use his or her cell phone to send a signal to the engine, completely disabling it. The engine cannot be engaged until a new message is sent by the owner of the vehicle or EarthSearch support personnel. In effect, this stymies any would-be thief's attempt to "hot wire" or otherwise turn over a vehicle's engine. "This is a highly user-friendly and effective auto-theft prevention device," said Isis Barchi, chief technology officer for EarthSearch.

The AutoSearchGPS device can also notify a vehicle owner via cell phone when there is unauthorized movement of the vehicle in any direction. In addition to these types of alerts, all vehicles equipped with AutoSearchGPS can be located via cell phone and tracked online in real time, including where the vehicle has been, which direction it is going, its exact location and the speed of the vehicle. "In the highly unlikely event that a thief is able to move a vehicle equipped with our product, inevitably the vehicle can be found quickly," added Aladesuyi.

The owner-friendly anti-theft technology does not stop there. In the event that an owner does not disable the engine after parking the vehicle, and the vehicle is subsequently stolen, the owner will receive an alert via cell phone and email of unauthorized movement. The owner can then alert EarthSearch support personnel (available 24/7) who will immediately notify local police of the vehicle's location. Once the police have properly identified the stolen vehicle, and they deem conditions are sufficiently safe, they can then request that EarthSearch personnel disable the engine by sending a GPS signal to the electronic system that provides gasoline to the engine. The system will cause gasoline to be siphoned out of the engine and the vehicle will, as a result, gradually come to a stop. EarthSearch will not allow individual owners to activate this particular function, given liability concerns.

There are a number of car alarm manufacturers and vehicle-location device companies attempting to utilize GPS technology to curb car theft, including OnStar. OnStar, General Motors' GPS and cellular based in-vehicle security, communications and diagnostics system, has recently announced that its "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown" system will be available in certain 2009 GM models. "This is a very similar system," Aladesuyi pointed out. "But ours is available and can be installed now."