Most people learn about Carfax when they start to shop for a used car. The company owns the world’s largest vehicle history database, and used car dealers offer the Carfax report to inform the customer of the health of a vehicle.
Just over 10 years ago, the company began working with law enforcement. Carfax for Police is a web-based suite of law enforcement-only investigative tools that officers can leverage to learn more about vehicles used in crimes or about vehicles that have been stolen. It is powered by Carfax’s Vehicle History Report, which includes information from 120,000 sources.
More than 75,000 investigators use the investigative tools as part of an interoperable exchange network. Agencies agree to share collision reports, and in exchange, gain free access to the tools. Each collision report an agency shares becomes new information available through the investigative tools.
Lt. Michael Ledoux (retired), business development manager of Carfax for Police, says there’s a misconception that the company’s investigative tools are only used for auto theft cases. He says they have been helpful in a wide variety of investigations. “Bad guys use vehicles. More than 75% of crime in North America involves vehicles. And more than two-thirds of abductions involve vehicles,” he explains.
Carfax for Police can be used by any law enforcement agency at no cost. To gain unlimited access to Carfax for Police, the agency simply enters into an agreement with Carfax to share collision data on vehicles in the jurisdiction. Personal injury information is not included in the data. Ledoux says more than 5,000 North American law enforcement agencies are partnered.
The Carfax for Police suite of investigative tools includes VIN alerts, service records, crash reports, license plate data, and a partial plate identification feature. Ledoux says the partial license plate tool is the newest feature in the suite. It lets investigators take partial plate information from witnesses or from videos and photos and enter a few letters and numbers in any position on the sample plate. With a list of possible matches, investigators can then use known information like make, model, color, and trimline to find better matches. “You can narrow the search down very quickly and very accurately,” Ledoux says.
While Carfax for Police can be used for other types of investigations, including violent crimes, human trafficking, organized crime, and abductions, it is naturally an excellent tool for auto theft investigations. Ledoux says one of the great benefits of Carfax for Police is that it can be used to reveal if a vehicle’s identification number has been cloned. “The Carfax report shows conflict. If the report shows information about one vehicle being in two different, yet faraway, locations on the same day, that’s something the investigators need to check out,” Ledoux explains.
The Atlanta Police Department has been using Carfax for Police since 2013. Deputy Chief Michael O’ Connor says the APD originally thought Carfax for Police would primarily be used for auto theft investigation but has found it to be much more robust. More than 250 users in the APD are now applying the intelligence gained from the service to a wide variety of investigations.
Carfax for Police can be accessed by credentialed agency personnel on laptops in their vehicles, desktop computers, and mobile devices using any browser.