Nassau and Suffolk police in New York have a new device located in their patrol cars that allows them to scan license plates and locate stolen vehicles right away. The license plate recognition program scans plates and then lets police know when it locates a stolen vehicle or a vehicle wanted in connection with a crime.

The cameras are placed on top of a police car and they automatically scan license plates. Plate numbers are then routed to the police car's computer and checked against databases of stolen cars and plates, fugitives, and other violators.

Suffolk police public information officer Tim Motz said they love the system and are anxiously waiting for more of them to arrive. The new technology's popularity is spreading and the Hempstead Village Police Department asked officials if they could purchase one of the devices for $26,000 from a federal grant. "It's like having 10 cops out there looking for stolen cars," said Chief James Russo to village trustees.

Motorola has a system that is currently being tested in more than two dozen police departments in 15 states, including Pennsylvania. Nassau police Sgt. David Curry said they have a few of the devices which are all made by different manufacturers.

Police in Anne Arundel County, Md., started using the devices six months ago, and have since recovered 12 stolen cars and four stolen license plates, and arrested one suspect.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Newsday (04/06/06); Murphy, William .