AZ Police Test Automated System for ‘Reading’ Auto Tags


Arizona officials are testing new electronic equipment that “reads” the license plates of cars and trucks on the road, then feeds the information into a computer to determine whether the vehicle is stolen or wanted for some other reason. A positive match sets off an alarm, allowing the officer to pull over the suspect vehicle, get positive verification by radio and, if appropriate, make an arrest.

The $22,000, installed on six state police cars, do essentially what patrol officers do, but much faster. The system can review about 1,500 license plates during an eight-hour shift.

Officials hope the devices can lift Arizona out of its dubious distinction of having one of the highest vehicle-theft rates in the country. In 2004, the most recent figures available, more than 55,000 cars and trucks were stolen. That is the third-highest rate in the country. The first vehicles getting the equipment are those that patrol counties bordering on Mexico, where many stolen vehicles ends up.


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