The Tulare County, CA, Board of Supervisors has approved accepting a Department of Homeland Security grant to purchase 12 MPH900 Mobile License Plate Readers for the county's sheriff's department and several municipal police departments.

The scanners were developed in Italy by scientist Giovanni Garibotto, who integrated the optical scanners used by the Italian post office to read postal addresses with character-recognition software that reads license plate numbers.

The devices can be portable, or can be mounted on the top of a police cruiser.

When activated, the scanners read license plates from a distance and compare the plate numbers with a database of reported stolen cars. If there is a match, the officer's laptop emits a loud beep.

Police in Tulare County are hoping the devices will help to reduce auto theft. Tulare County is one of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation for car thefts per capita.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Fresno Bee (05/04/07) P. B1; Griswold, Lewis.