Maryland state police have been using license plate reader technology since 2004, but the program is getting a new influx of money — including a $2 million state grant last summer — doubling the funding, says the Baltimore Sun. Officials give the devices part of the credit for a nearly 40 percent drop in car theft across the state in the past three years.
The system has limits. Hours after Maryland State Police Trooper Shaft Hunter was killed May 21 when his cruiser slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer while chasing a speeding motorcycle, authorities said they hoped to identify the motorcycle’s driver using a license plate reader. There is a stationary reader on the highway close to the crash site. Reading smaller motorcycle tags is more difficult than license plates on cars or trucks. The reader can’t scan numbers on vehicles exceeding 120 mph or motorcycle tags that have been mounted inside wheel wells or are obscured by fenders.