A private company to install microchip into tombstones in Johannesburg

By Drum Digital
14 November 2013

From early next year Johannesburg authorities will allow the installation of security devices on tombstones, in a bid to curb theft, officials said on Wednesday.

Alan Buff, who oversees the city's cemeteries said a deal has been entered into with a private company that will install microchip transmitters into tombstones.

The system is designed to detect movement and trigger off sirens.

"Then we will be able to immediately locate the area where a tombstone has been moved and we will be able to track it down," Buff told AFP.

"It's like your car tracking device," he said.

An SMS will be sent to the family of the deceased to notify them of any tampering with the tombstone.

"Obviously there's a lot of emotional connotation that goes with it," said Mark Pringle director of Memorial Alert, the company that has the patent for the world's first tombstone security technology.

The system will detect even the slightest of movements, such as the shifting of a vase.

Families of the deceased can choose to install the alarm, at an as yet undisclosed cost.

"We have keep affordability in mind," said Pringle.

The city's 36 public cemeteries currently have perimeter sensors and are patrolled by security guards, yet on average between 15 and 20 marble or granite tombstones are stolen a month.

Along with the new technology, it will also be possible for families to take out insurance against theft and vandalism of tombstones.

Pringle said theft from cemeteries was not only unique to South Africa but was a worldwide problem.


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