Sheriff's Dept. Unveils License-Plate Scanners

Scanners Can Gather Information From License Plates Of Parked Or Moving Vehicles

With a grant from the Barona and Sycuan casinos, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department added another piece of high-tech gear to their arsenal.

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The sheriff's department announced Monday the acquisition of low-profile, infrared cameras that automatically scan license plates whether in a parking lot or on the highway.

"Where I would have to manually enter every license plate I wanted to check on, this new system does it for me and at a rate of several hundred cars per minute," said sheriff's Sgt. Robert Niderost at a demonstration at sheriff's headquarters in Valley Center.

Whether at 80 miles per hour or 8 miles per hour, the system automatically scans license plates, captures a digital color picture and checks it against a database of stolen cars as reported by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The department has had the technology since 2009, and while there is not a direct correlation with the equipment, the auto theft rate in the sheriff's jurisdiction in the county has declined 16 percent from 2010 to 2011.

The latest addition to the department will be assigned to the Valley Center area of the country.

Valley Center has four Indian casinos deputies often patrol and the readers can lead law enforcement to those who may be wanted.

"We often do on a regular basis find wanted persons who want to hide out and it does help us locate them when we find their vehicles," said Lt. Mike McClain, the officer in charge of the Valley View substation.

The car, cameras, computers and radios added up to more than $78,000.

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