Police get a new toy to read your license plate

Look out, Cage.
  • Look out, Cage.

Remember that Nick Cage/Angelina Jolie flick Gone in 60 Seconds? It’s the one where Cage works his best thespian chops as a master car thief, jimmying open all sorts of delectable luxury autos before shooting off on wild car chases with the five-o, a sultry Jolie sitting shotgun. Yup, made all the kids on the block want to be car thieves. Well Northeast Ohioans, it turns out it was a good call you didn’t let your auto outlaw dreams get the best of you. Car thieves and other criminal elements are going to have a hard time on the open road here starting in August.

According to the Plain Dealer, five counties in Northeast Ohio will soon deploy of flock of police vehicles equipped with a device that can scan license plates to determine if the vehicle is stolen, whether or not the driver has warrants, or if the plates are expired. The new gear will cost $580,260 and is being paid for in part by the stimulus. Yeah stimulus!

More details from the paper:

The units, called Automated License Plate Readers, use high-speed cameras and computers to compare license plates to criminal databases. The system records the date, time and location of the license plate scanned. Police will store the information for 90 days.

Police will be alerted when a unit recognizes a license plate connected to a stolen car, an expired plate or drivers with warrants or unpaid fines. The system will also alert to vehicles linked to Amber Alerts.

All 42 units will be operating by late August, said Erica Creech, spokeswoman for Cleveland's Office of Homeland Security, Grants & Technology. There is currently one stationary unit at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and seven mobile units in Cleveland patrol cars.

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