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California City Looks at Using Garbage Haulers to Catch Car Thieves

August 20, 2015  | 

The noisy garbage trucks that lumber down San Jose, Calif., streets every week could soon pick up more than just trash -- they might also scan license plates, too, in a proposed city-wide sweep for stolen vehicles that has civil libertarians crying foul, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmen Johnny Khamis and Raul Peralez proposed that the Bay Area city consider strapping license plate readers to the front of garbage trucks, allowing them to record the plates of every car along their routes. The data would be fed directly to the Police Department from the privately operated trash trucks, prompting an officer to respond to stolen vehicles or cars involved with serious crime.

"We can cover every street at least once a week and possibly deter thieves from coming into our city," Khamis said. A committee chaired by Liccardo that sets the council's agenda voted Wednesday to continue exploring the idea.

Khamis said mounting the plate readers on garbage trucks instead of police cars wouldn't be any more intrusive than what's already being done. "This is a public street," Khamis said. "You're not expecting privacy on a public street."


Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Jon Retired LEO @ 8/20/2015 7:59 PM

Aw, the poor civil libertarians, I do believe that they have their panties in a wad. This might make it harder for their partners in crime to get things done.

kevCopAz @ 8/21/2015 7:29 AM

Now this is a new and innovative way to use technology! This expands the search, does nothing to burden the workers or add cost (other then units) to the process of finding and recovering these stolen vehicles and perhaps leading to the arrest of the criminals involved. I agree there are no privacy issues, search and seizure issues etc just by using this method. Good job, great idea and the Mgt. that either thought of this and or apply it should be congratulated..

John in SD @ 10/27/2015 11:17 AM

Its all good when you can associate its use to serious crime and saving lives and I understand a mission of this publication is establishing this meme when presenting technologies to the public who pay police salaries and ultimately are the boss.(albeit through a detached political chain of command.)
However these uses are not always the case and the slippery slope/mission creep problem is the elephant in the room and privacy issues affect us all, even police officers active and retired. Nobody is 100% law abiding, we all pick and choose the codes we bend or even break based upon our moral compass and risk/benefit analysis. Having the eyes of big brother become so absolute will result in a society no one wants, but many seem to feel its okay as long as it only affects the "bad guys".
With municipalities and corporations working together and selling the data they compile for a variety of uses far outside of what is presented or intended, it affects the good guys too.

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