License Plate Readers Expected to Track Stolen Cars


POSTED: Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 2:33pm

UPDATED: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 8:34am

It's the newest technology out there, a real crime fighting tool that has proven to be very effective, the decrease in crime numbers proves it.

They're license plate readers and the Cameron County Sheriff's office is getting five of them for their patrol units, through a grant.

The units equipped with this new technology will be patrolling some of the highest traffic areas like Expressway 83, 281, Paredes Line and 803.

Currently, several of the international bridges throughout Cameron County have them. Their main goal is to determine whether or not a vehicle has been reported stolen.

At the peak of car thefts, about ten years ago, thousands of stolen vehicles were making their way over to Mexico.

"At one time they were stealing between about 22-hundred, 25-hudnred vehicles here in Cameron County on a yearly basis," says Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio.

Through the help of this and other technology over the last decade, the sheriff says those numbers have drastically dropped.

"Right now we keep it at a minimum between 200-300 vehicles that are stolen yearly here in Cameron County," says the sheriff.

Numbers are way down, but not low enough he says. He's expecting these new license plate readers will drop the numbers even farther, by acting as a deterrent to car thieves.

The easy to operate equipment will also help deputies run a check on a plate much faster.

"It has a little camera and will read the license plate automatically," says the sheriff.

Currently deputies either have to manually type a plates number in or call it into dispatch to get info on a vehicle or driver, and in some cases, while navigating through traffic.

By scanning and reading a plate almost instantly a deputy can disperse the info immediately to other units and call for back up much quicker, if need be.

While recovering stolen cars will be the main function of the technology, it'll also help to determine who's behind the wheel.

"It can also give additional information if we're looking for an individual, for example, with an outstanding warrant," says Lucio.

The new license plate readers are expected to be installed in the units within the next month.

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