4 votes

New Tracking Frontier: Your License Plates (VIDEO)

New Tracking Frontier: Your License Plates (VIDEO)


For more than two years, the police in San Leandro, Calif., photographed Mike Katz-Lacabe's Toyota Tercel almost weekly. They have shots of it cruising along Estudillo Avenue near the library, parked at his friend's house and near a coffee shop he likes. In one case, they snapped a photo of him and his two daughters getting out of a car in his driveway.

Mr. Katz-Lacabe isn't charged with, or suspected of, any crime. Local police are tracking his vehicle automatically, using cameras mounted on a patrol car that record every nearby vehicle—license plate, time and location.

"Why are they keeping all this data?" says Mr. Katz-Lacabe, who obtained the photos of his car through a public-records request. "I've done nothing wrong."

Until recently it was far too expensive for police to track the locations of innocent people such as Mr. Katz-Lacabe. But as surveillance technologies decline in cost and grow in sophistication, police are rapidly adopting them. Private companies are joining, too. At least two start-up companies, both founded by "repo men"—specialists in repossessing cars or property from deadbeats—are currently deploying camera-equipped cars nationwide to photograph people's license plates, hoping to profit from the data they collect.

Read more:

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Most in Datawarehouse in AZ

Many Police Depts use the system that stores all the data in a big data warehouse in Arizona.

Since it tracks your car across multiple jurisdictions they can search across a large portion of the USA all at once.

It is sold under the guise of finding the cars of unpaid tickets and fines (revenue stream).

It is used most often to find things where they do not know your license plate.
- They can find all the cars that might have witnessed a crime. i.e. You drive by someplace where something happened and 3 days later they contact you to see if you saw somethig.

- Also it has a live "Blue Pickup" search feature. So they type in "Blue Pickup" and it shows in livetime in all surrounding jurisdictions any blue pickups that were recently seen by a camera. Then they can fine tune from there. I think it can automatically APB to surrounding police so if a blue pickup drives near a camera it is falgged right away as an alert.

- It also does license plate stuff but I have been told the "fishing expidition" to find witnesses and the "blue pickup" search has been the most usefull.

here we go...

Everyone driving a "blue pickup" or auto du jour will be yanked out of their vehicle, handcuffed and treated like a criminal until they prove themselves innocent.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know Peace." - Jimi Hendrix