A new device in the Scottsdale Police Department's auto-theft division has given officers a quicker read on license plates. Since May 1, police have recovered 26 stolen vehicles by using its four automated license-plate recognition systems, which were installed at a cost of about $22,000 each.
The systems use a computer-based optical reader that scans license plates and compares them against several law enforcement databases, checking for stolen vehicles and wanted persons.
The standard police vehicle contains two cameras facing forward and two facing the rear of the vehicle to read the plates at a rate of up to 1,000 plates an hour. If there's a hit on a plate, the officers are immediately notified and can then run the plate.
"The technology of the ALPR system is incredible," said Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark. "Before, officers who happened upon a stolen car had to rely on their instincts to spot something out of place with the car. Now, a patrol officer using this technology is automatically scanning every car that comes into range of the system and is alerted when a stolen car is nearby."
All of the scanned information will be stored in an internal database, including the license plate image and number, vehicle color, date and time stamp, and Global Positioning location.
Of the 26 stolen vehicles recovered in Scottsdale with the use of the systems, five suspects were inside the vehicles, including one within the first week they were put into use, according to police.
Last year, 464 stolen vehicles were recovered in Scottsdale; 312 of them were stolen from Scottsdale residents or businesses, according to police.