Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Brains and bars

Finally, some intelligent thought from the New York Times' editors! They're better when they stay away from politics, economics, news...
The LoJack security system has hurt the business model of auto theft, forcing thieves to go into new lines of work - and that should inspire us to think more creatively and systematically about how to reduce crime. Sold for $695, the LoJack is a radio transmitter that is hidden on a vehicle and then activated if the car is stolen. The transmitter then silently summons the police.
Finally, people designing something that not just stops crime, but actually catches criminals. I'm shocked that there wasn't more in the article about privacy issues, but thank God for small miracles. I agree with Kristof that insurance companies should lower rates for someone who has LoJack, because even if their car does get stolen, the odds are high that their car will be tracked and found - and the thief put in jail. As to anyone who would start complaining about the privacy issues involved, the answer is simple: People are not required to install LoJack. If they want a safe way of tracking their car in case of theft, they can get it. If not, they don't have to. For most people, the decision would not come down to privacy issues - more likely, the $695 cost. Perhaps someone like Professor Donohue of Yale should add into a study the amount governments save in costs, the number of extra policemen able to patrol or concentrate on other investigations, etc. in instances where a car thief is easily and quickly tracked through the use of something such as LoJack. In addition to removing thieves from the road, I would think LoJack also allows the police department to concentrate more resources on investigating other crimes and on the streets to prevent other crimes from being perpetrated in the first place. If the savings is large, perhaps local governments should subsidize the installation of LoJack systems on cars, because it will actually end up saving them money (this is called an 'investment', as opposed to most government subsidies which are called 'waste'). This, in turn, would allow an even higher percentage of consumers to buy LoJack, which would in turn reduce crime, which would cause a greater savings to the government,...yada yada yada. Just a thought!

No comments:

Post a Comment