WHITTIER – Stealing vehicles in Whittier just got tougher. Whittier Police Department officials Thursday introduced the Automated License Plate Recognition, which is mounted into one of the department’s patrol cars. The setup includes four car-mounted cameras, which automatically take photos of any license plates within range. The system can then check the plates against a state database of stolen vehicles. The $26,856 British-made system uses satellite tracking technology that can remember where and when an automobile was seen, officials said. When the system finds a stolen vehicle, a computer voice alerts the officer with a message. At the same time, a photo of the vehicle pops onto the dashboard computer. “This can be one of our biggest tools to identify stolen vehicles, which are a gateway to other crimes,” said Lt. Aviv Bar. “Most thieves use it to commit other crimes. Stolen vehicles often lead us to other arrests because we’ll find guns or drugs in the cars.” Normally, an officer is able to run between 10 and 20 license plates during a typical shift, using the old system. But with the new system, up to 7,000 plates can be automatically scanned through the database, Bar said. “It’s like having a silent partner,” said Sgt. Kent Miller, who was able to pay attention to driving while the computer was busy scanning the plates of moving or parked vehicles he drove past. “We don’t have the staff to dedicate one officer to just run plates for stolen vehicles, so this way we can respond to calls while the computer looks for them.” Every morning an updated list of stolen vehicles from the California Department of Justice is loaded into the system’s computer for comparison with the scanned license plates from that day. If all this photo-scanning seems a bit Big Brotherish, Miller assured people worried about privacy rights that the system’s cameras do not “scan the inside of cars.” A handful of other departments in Los Angeles County now have the recognition cameras, including the Los Angeles Police Department, which has used the system for about two years, Bar said. The Whittier department was able to secure full funding for the equipment through two grants from the U.S. Department of Justice. “We’re proud to have such cutting-edge, crime-fighting technology in our city,” Miller said. “We hope this will make thieves think twice about stealing cars in Whittier.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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