Gadget slows stolen vehicles

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CAR THIEVES who career off at 90mph could soon be stopped by a device that reduces their speed to a level at which even a policeman on a bicycle can catch them.

The gadget, designed by the traffic information provider Trafficmaster, heralds the end of the car chase, as the stolen vehicle can travel no faster than 15mph. A unit in the engine is activated when the car is broken into. As it comes in range of one of Trafficmaster's 7,000 infra-red sensors across the country, the unit signals the company's control centre. Operators alert the owner and police. A transmission to the car implements a reduction in its speed by restricting the fuel.

Terry Shurwood, the sales director at Trafficmaster, which plans to launch the system in April, said: "The advantage we have over other systems is that it offsets the need for a high-speed police car chase ... It would be interesting to see a policeman on a bicycle - a fit policeman perhaps - approaching a car when the car is reduced to 15mph." The device will cost pounds 200, plus an annual subscription of pounds 60.