Keeping car thieves at bay

Keeping car thieves at bay

MASERU – ARE you worried that your cherished car may be stolen by thieves or be taken by any of your mischievous family members without your permission? Relax, Tšitso Nkhabu has developed a system that will keep thieves’ off your car.
Nkhabu is a National University of Lesotho (NUL)-trained and self-proclaimed instrumentation enthusiast.
After years of thinking and testing his system, Nkhabu has registered a company that now makes and sells car security products.
The company is called ElectroServ Engineering.

Let’s suppose that Nkhabu has installed this system on your car.
And let’s suppose a thief decides that it’s time to pick it off from you.
That fictitious thief will be intrigued by a thing or two!
First, if he happens to have car keys, they just won’t work.

“The system we install will demand that our thief has a pin, which he will have to use to unlock the car. Without a pin, he just can’t start a car and go,” Nkhabu says. But some thieves won’t need car keys, they will just get a car going by fiddling with the car starting system.
That still will not work here!

The internal mechanisms of the car have been programmed to be unblocked only by the pin, not amateurish fiddling.
After installation, a keypad, where the car owner enters the pin can be placed at any point on the car depending on the owner’s choosing.
What if this keypad is removed or tampered with by the thief?

That still doesn’t solve his problem, in fact it makes it worse. “At that point, the only way for the car to move is if I am now called to reinstall. Removing the keypad, which is just a communication tool, does nothing to change the internal mechanisms, in fact it makes them more inaccessible,” Nkhabu says.

Okay, is the starting mechanism the only thing under control here?
Without the right pin, you have no access to your car radio, wipers, lights— in fact all electronic components of the car are effectively disabled.
Great? Not enough!
This system sets you free not only from thieves but from your naughty family members—actually, fathers who own cars, and have able-bodied sons (bashemane ba shahlileng), know what we are talking about.
But can’t the system be breached somehow?

“All manmade security features can be breached, that is not a question,” Nkhabu agrees.
“However, I did my best to study the psychology of thieves when developing this system.”
So what’s in a thief’s psychology?

“Thieves value their time more than anything,” he says.
“Dismantling a complex security system like the one we have built will take time which they just don’t have.”
But that is assuming, time is the only factor, “most of the time, time is just one of the factors, the main factor is that you hardly find thieves who are also engineers,” Nkhabu says.
Look, these are people who believe in quick cash, who don’t want to work hard—hardly the caliber you will find among engineers, in fact, thieves are the direct opposite of engineers.

And if they are not engineers, they will have a hard time trying to figure out and dismantle the system.
So how did this young gentleman end up with a brilliant system like this one?
“My love for working with vehicles was kindled when I was a student at the NUL,” he says.

“Therein I was supervised in my final year project by Dr Molefe Makhele who insisted that I develop a “cellphone controlled robotic vehicle”.
Although he used a toy car for this experiment, he was able to achieve the following in the project: he could control his toy car with a cellphone, by starting it, accelerating and decelerating it, or even putting it into a reverse.
“At some point, I was also able to make my car to sense obstacles to avoid collision. I was moving into the area of self-driving albeit at a rudimentary level,” Nkhabu says.

But that experience taught him he could do something with cars.
When he left school, he “was stunned by the prevalence of reports of car theft, almost on a weekly basis.”
He wanted to help.

He found one auto-mechanic and a car enthusiast by the name Nthuping Mokoma.
“I was there just to consult him since he had a wealth of knowledge about cars but I got more than I was asking for,” he says.
“Mr Mokoma went so far as to invite me to his workshop so I could observe him as he dismantled cars and learn as much about them as possible.”
At the time, Nkhabu was doing intense reading about cars and combining the knowledge with what he was seeing in practice.

“In time, we figured out how our system could become part of the existing car design mechanisms.”
Then both of them tested their system on Mokoma’s cars and it worked.
“Actually after many tests, we registered a company and we have been in operation for some time,” Nkhabu says, even as he summed up the story of the amazing journey.

Own Correspondent

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