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Ford is delighted for the six dog owners in West London, now reunited with their pets who were stolen when in the back of their dog minder’s Transit Custom.

Ford guided the Transit owner, who counts technology journalist Rory Cellan-Jones among his customers, to the Ford Pass app, which is available free of charge to all customers. Because Brett Holte-Smith had linked the app to his vehicle when new last year, its whereabouts could be interrogated. Once Ford Pass had been activated, the Transit’s first location following its theft in Ealing on the morning of November 12 showed as Park Royal.

By the time the search team reached the location, the vehicle had gone but five of the six dogs were later found roaming Park Royal and captured.

The thieves’ next move in the Transit showed up on Ford Pass, tracing the van to another part of Park Royal where police seized the van the same evening. The sixth dog was later found also and police inquiries continue to identify the perpetrators.

Mark Harvey, Ford enterprise connectivity director, said: “Connectivity is the cornerstone of our mission to deliver smart vehicles. What brings that plan to life, and makes it all the more rewarding, is real-life stories such as this, with Ford’s technologically advanced vehicles bringing about a better outcome for customers in need.”

Ford has offered to provide Mr Holte-Smith with an alternative vehicle pending his Transit being back up and running. One of the six dog owners impacted by the crime was former BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, who launched a high-profile social media appeal for their return which was picked up by Ford, and credited the company’s involvement in his resulting blog.

Ford made the majority of its commercial vehicles connected with in-built modems as standard last year, enabling their location to be pinpointed remotely, following the same free car upgrade in 2018.

Earlier this year, Ford added a new connected security system called SecuriAlert, sending notifications to the vehicle owner’s phone if it identifies vehicle activity such as attempts to open doors or gain access with a key.