I was doing my research into the massive range of spy equipment and there seems to be a lot of discussion about what is the best hidden GPS tracking device?

The answer is to consider what you want to track, and how far is it likely to travel?

Tracking devices fall into two categories and I am going to tackle each one in turn, explaining the benefits of each.

Then we can work out which is best for your unique needs.

What is the best tracking device for a car?

There are two very important considerations when choosing the best tracking device for a car. These are (i) the durability, and (ii) the ability to track over an extended distance.

Durability is a balancing act: we want a sturdy device but not too large or it will get detected.

A perfect example of a good vehicle tracking device is the Rewrire K102 Nano Magnetic Vehicle Tracker:

REWIRE K102 NANO MAGNETIC VEHICLE TRACKER

This is a device that fits in the hand and is very durable. I would recommend fitting this under the wheel arch as this area is not often inspected.

man adding gps tracker to wheel arch

Use the wheel arch as this is not often inspected

What Is The Battery Life On Car Tracking Devices?

How long this device can last is quite a complex matter. This is because it has several modes.

If the device is static then the battery can last up to 14 days. On the move, it can be as little as 3 days.

It all depends on the reporting mechanism and the number of updates.

Personally, I think 3 days seems too small if you want to track a stolen vehicle.

However, assuming you are fine with the battery then lots of cool things are possible when tracking the vehicle using the app. You can even use google street view to find the exact house where the vehicle is located.

How Do Vehicle Tracking Devices Work?

So my first question was : how do the tracking devices work, and do they need a SIM?

The answer is they do need a SIM and a subscription to the tracking app.

The tracking app subscription is free for the first year and £20 per year after that.

The SIM needs to be valid for the country in which the tracker resides.

It is possible to track across multiple countries as the device has a (deep breath) omnidirectional SiRF Star III GPS antenna with a Quad-Band GSM engine (exhale).

Sounds fancy but essentially means it can work anywhere using either GSM and/or GPS (more on this later).

Global SIMs exist, and are known as an M2M SIMs. The vendor of the tracking devices normally sell these.

However, you might not want to track a vehicle but instead a person or an object such as a suitcase. In this case, you might ask:

What is the best tracking device for people?

The answer is a micro tracker, as it is very small and can be concealed, so if required the carrier does not know it is present.

A person's hand containing a micro tracker

A Micro Tracker

Also, you still want all the functionality of a vehicle tracker such as constant tracking but in a discreet package.

Like me, you might also be wondering?

Why not just buy a small tracking device for both the vehicle and the person?

The main answer is the battery. The vehicle tracker can afford to be larger so the battery lasts for longer.

Also, the micro trackers are not normally waterproof or magnetic, so dramatically limit where they can be hidden.

The maximum running time for a micro tracker is around three days (compared to 14 for the vehicle tracker). The minimum is 1 day.

The good news is that it only takes 3 hours to charge and unlike the vehicle charger will be easier to retrieve.

What Do Personal Trackers Look Like?

Micro trackers have endless possibilities and come in an array of shapes and sizes from very thin ones designed to fit into the wallet:

Micro Tracker that fits into a wallet

To trackers designed to attach to a person.

A common use for this is to track elderly relatives that are at risk.

Old person with a micro Tracker

And finally, they can even be made to fit on your dog’s collar, so that you never lose your prize pooch.

Dog with a micro tracker

Whatever flavour of tracking product you want, you need to know:

What is the difference between GSM and GPS Trackers?

GPS devices are much more precise, within a metre where GSM is within 10 metres.

GPS use satellites, whereas GSM uses the nearest cellular tower.

Most of the trackers on the market use a combination of both GSM and GPS. The reason for this is that depending on the location, one technology might be more contactable than the other.

For example, any device indoors will not be able to find a GPS signal but in most circumstances, a mobile GSM signal can be found. In remote places outside, the opposite is true.

As the range of possibilities become apparent for tracking devices a very common question is:

Are tracking devices legal?

They are legal if you own the asset or vehicle. In the case of a person, they need to give permission unless they are under 18.

This is the case for both the US and the UK. For other countries, it is advised that you find out the exact law from the local authorities.

Most uses of tracking devices include tracking children or vulnerable relatives, both of which are legal.

Other valid legal examples include tracking your car in the event of theft, or a business owner tracking their fleet.

This invariably leads to the question of:

Is it legal to track a spouse (who you suspect of cheating)?

The answer is yes if you legally own the car. However, if your spouse owns the car it is not.

If you intend to track the spouse using a device on their person this is not legal as they have not given permission.

There have been several landmark cases in the US which demonstrates how complicated tracking laws can be.

For example the case of ‘Elgin v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co.’ in 2005. In this case, the employee claimed that it was unlawful for the company to track his work vehicle while he was out of working hours. In this case, the judge deemed it was OK as the company owned the vehicle.

Large Coca Cola Truck

Another compelling case was ‘United States v. Jones’ in 2011.

The Police tracked a drug dealer and the evidence gained from the tracker was sufficient to prosecute. However, the convicted drug dealer said it was an infringement of his civil rights.

Surprisingly the case was upheld as the court said that it was unlawful to track a device you did not own for whatever reason.

Pro Tip: If you are thinking of tracking a cheating spouse, be sure to read our guide to catching a cheating spouse.

Conclusion

So what’s the bottom line?

The purpose of the Hidden GPS Tracking Device will be the key factor in deciding which tracker to select.

For a personal tracker, then size and discretion is the primary decider even if it that means a degradation in battery size.

For a vehicle, it should be durable, and if you envisage a long period between charges then battery size is going to be the key consideration.

Where the device is likely to wander can also be key. You will require a special SIM if the package is going abroad.

Whenever possible try to get a GSM and GPS tracker.

Happy Spying!