East Palo Alto police will soon have two vehicle license plate readers to cut down on stolen vehicles and find wanted criminals, police Chief Ronald Davis has announced.
The readers, or LPRs, use high-speed cameras and sophisticated computer algorithms capable of converting the images of license plates into computer-readable data. The plates can be compared against stolen and wanted vehicle lists.
The devices will be mounted in patrol vehicles and will automatically scan all vehicles within a specific radius of the patrol car. If the vehicle is stolen or wanted, the system will immediately alert the officer.
The new technology will supplement a current LPR system used by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office in collaboration with East Palo Alto. On the occasions when that system has been used, the results have been "extremely positive," Davis said in a press release.
The LPRs are being purchased through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. East Palo Alto's systems will allow the LPRs to be used throughout the city on a daily basis, according to police. East Palo Alto has seen a reduction in violent crimes of up to 51 percent so far in 2010, but vehicle thefts have increased by 13 percent.
"We believe this will greatly increase the department's ability to recover stolen and wanted vehicles and reduce overall auto thefts. The department will also work collaboratively with our neighboring police agencies and the sheriff to widen LPR coverage throughout the county," Davis said.