As Germantown police officer Ryan Carter turns on his police cruiser, a female voice sounds from his dash.
"Alert: LoJack stolen vehicle contact received. Reply code: zero, zero, zero, juliet, hotel," the voice says from a small, rectangular screen affixed to the dash.
"Sometimes that scares me when I turn on the car," says Carter, "like I'm hearing voices."
The LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System was installed in his car the day before. The new system, which alerts officers when certain stolen vehicles are in the area, was installed in six Germantown cruisers, 22 Shelby County Sheriff cars, and 40 Memphis Police Department (MPD) cars.
For $695, car buyers can opt to have a LoJack system installed in their vehicle. If the car is stolen, its LoJack system will be activated after the theft is reported to police. If a patrol officer has the LoJack receiver in his squad car, it will beep if the car comes within three miles of the stolen vehicle.
A digital compass on the receiver directs the officer to the stolen car. As the officer nears the intended target, the beeps get faster and higher in pitch.
"We guarantee vehicle recovery within 24 hours," boasts Patrick Clancy, vice president of law enforcement for the LoJack Corporation, at a joint press conference Wednesday morning with officers from Memphis, Germantown, and Shelby County.
Carter demonstrates the system in action. First, Clancy drives away in a Chevy van equipped with an activated LoJack system.
When Carter turns on his engine, the voice from his dash lets Carter know a stolen car has been sensed nearby. His compass points north, so he drives in that direction.
"This system is great because it eliminates the need for a high-speed chase," says Carter as the LoJack beeps get higher and faster. "They can try and get away, but we'll find them eventually."
The compass begins to point a little more to the right, and Carter turns onto a side street. Up ahead, the van has already been apprehended by another police demo car.
While the system is only useful in locating cars equipped with a LoJack transmitter, Clancy says that over five million have been installed around the country. Since 1986, when LoJack was founded, over 100,000 vehicles have been recovered worldwide.
Last week, when two MPD officers were only 20 minutes into their LoJack training, they found a stolen Nissan in South Memphis.
Since the company depends on police to use the system, it is installed in police cars for no charge.
"In this era of crime, we've got to police smarter," says Shelby County sheriff Mark Luttrell. "This is a method that's economically efficient with proven results."