Dotty car-identity plan now law

2012-03-14 12:25

Just-announced changes to the National Road Traffic Act could go a long way towards fighting car theft and the illegal parts trade - but exactly how?

The main push will be the dictatorial insistence by the state that all new vehicles registered in South Africa must have microdot technology - tiny stickers in and outside the car carrying a unique identity code. Fortunately, most new cars come with them anyway and have done for some time.

Business Against Crime SA chief executive Graham Wright said: “The application of microdot technology to all motor vehicles will strengthen the police's ability to identify stolen or hijacked vehicles.

"These regulatory changes follow more than a decade of consistent and sustained effort by Bacsa and various parties within government and business to secure the identity of all motor vehicles."

From September 1, 2012, all vehicles  being registered for the first time must have microdots - fortunately, most of those made or imported already have the treatment, which is included in the retail prices. Do it yourself and it could cost you close to R2500. All vehicles requiring SA Police clearance already require microdots.


Wright said that meant the police could now identify parts from stolen vehicles even if the vehicle has been chopped for the parts market.

Microdot technology works through the application of thousands of small polymeric or metallic discs inscribed with a vehicle identification number (VIN) or an agreed personal identification number (PIN). They are applied in various locations on the vehicle with hand-held, low-pressure, spray systems (or can be brushed on) and can be read by extracting one and putting in under a magnifying glass.

The microdots can be applied during the manufacturing process or it can be done later. Most South African motor manufacturers subscribe to the technology.

"Microdots are the most cost-effective, easy-to-use and enduring technology available in securing and preserving the identity of a motor vehicle," Wright added. “Traditionally, a vehicle is identified through its VIN and/or chassis number. However, given the illicit market for stolen vehicles and parts, such numbers are often filed off and changed. This allows stolen or hijacked vehicles to be re-licensed under a new identity, for its parts to be sold, or for the vehicle to be exported."


The DataDot vehicle pack, for example, includes 10 000 dots with a coded PIN registered to your vehicle and warning stickers. It costs R2450 and can be done by a number of franchises across the country.

Once applied, the microdot code is registered with eNatis and linked to a national/international database for the easy identification of stolen items.

The microdots can, however, also be applied to motorcycles, motorboats, tools and household and personal effects. Certain insurance discounts and incentives may apply to owners who have their cars fitted with microdot technology.

For quick recovery, however, the dots are no substitute for a tracking device - for which insurance companies offer discounts of 15-25% on premiums; given you drive a reasonably expensive car, that discount could cover your tracker's monthly service charge.

If you are buying a used car, at least 100 000 vehicles have been "dotted" in SA and stickers applied to window glass; the dealer should, in fact, check each used car as it is bought in. Whether they bother or not...


  • Colin - 2012-03-14 13:11

    the vehicles will still be stolen and found across our borders.do the criminals care about "dots"

  • John - 2012-03-14 15:53

    Probably some politicians family that has the francise !!!

  • Trevor - 2012-03-14 18:26

    Just one more stupid law, so, which ANC politician's friend or cousin or sister or wife is supplying the "DOTS"...Shabir...any of your doing like the licencing system you supplied that is still a huge flop...but you/zuma got paid anyway...

  • Desmond - 2012-03-14 19:53

    The fitment centres are by no manner of imagination country wide. The closest on to me is a two hour(due to roadworks) drive away. Dont have the time to do this.

  • Kon - 2012-03-15 11:55

    Okay,so my car is stolen and stripped for parts (chopped) and the parts are found (by scanning the dots)at scrap dealers all ever the RSA. 1. How does this help me? Am I missing something? 2. The folk doing the scanning at scrap dealers can possibly be bought off to not report findings.

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