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The authors present AutoWitness, a system to deter, detect, and track personal property theft, improve historically dismal stolen property recovery rates, and disrupt stolen property distribution networks. A property owner embeds a small tag inside the asset to be protected, where the tag lies dormant until it detects vehicular movement. Once moved, the tag uses inertial sensor-based dead reckoning to estimate position changes, but to reduce integration errors, the relative position is reset whenever the sensors indicate the vehicle has stopped. The sequence of movements, stops, and turns are logged in compact form and eventually transferred to a server using a cellular modem after both sufficient time has passed (to avoid detection) and RF power is detectable (hinting cellular access may be available).
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