KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Automated license plate readers are spreading across the metro just as fast as they are scanning plates.
Watch video of the plate scanner by clicking on the player to the left
Cities like Olathe, Grandview and Kansas City are using tiny cameras to track down criminals on the road. Officers with the Blue Springs Police Department say their city is the next to join the ranks.
For Kansas City, Missouri Police Officer Scott Johnson, patrolling used to mean scanning license plates with his eyes.
However, a new device, coined the Mobile Plate Hunter 900, is turning the tides for a number of departments.
The automated reader scans every car it passes alerting officers to plates tied with criminal activity. It’s quickly becoming a law breaker’s worst nightmare.
Officer Johnson explains, “It can tell us if they have warrants to the tag, if it's a non-registered vehicle, stolen auto or anything of illegal such."
The information is made available instantly, giving Johnson a basis for further research and maybe a reason to pull someone over.
Thursday, he and his partner found a car that had one of its plates taken.
Wednesday, he found a stolen vehicle.
Johnson says the possibilities are endless, “Definitely as technology moves along, we'll see our jobs get easier and more efficient."
The technology includes three infrared cameras, pointed in all directions, that can scan up to 5,000 plates in an hour.
Johnson says, thanks to the new devices, the number of stops involving warrants has increased.
He warns, “It's not going to stop somebody from committing a crime, it's just going to help us catch them."
Johnson says the cameras act as tools for police to catch criminals who may have gone under the radar before.
Installing the device costs about $24,000 per car. So far, Kansas City, Missouri has six patrol cars with readers. Johnson says grant money paid for the new technology.
The department has been using the readers for one month.
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