YAKIMA, WA. - The Yakima Valley has dealt with a high rate of car thefts for years now, and that statistic is finally starting to drop. So why is the Yakima Police Department asking for a new license plate reader system?
Yakima's auto theft rate dropped by almost half in the last year alone. This new license plate reader system will be used to catch suspects involved a host of crimes. And it's a very high tech system.
Auto thefts are a notorious problem around our area but the numbers say it's getting better despite the police department's current license plate reader system that's seen it's better days.
"Well what we have now is getting quite elderly and it just doesn't work anymore," Captain Jeff Schneider of the Yakima Police Department said. "These things don't last forever."
Right now officers have to manually type in a license plate to determine if the car is stolen. That could change with the planned purchase of 8 "Vigilant Solutions Mobile License Plate Reader Systems". The name is a mouth full. The results, could be huge.
"Obviously this is a main tool for car thefts, is that the main focus of getting it?" we asked.
"It's one of the things we're going to use it for but it's not the focus," Capt. Schneider said. "It has all kinds of different applications. It would be used for assaults, it could be used for robberies. Basically anytime a suspect uses a vehicle, you can use an ALPR to gain investigative information."
The car reader system will automatically categorize where and when the license plate was seen. It has the ability to read cars parked on the street or driving by. And speed is not an issue.
"It can read license plates at an oncoming rate of about 120 miles per hour," Capt. Jeff Schneider said. "That's pretty impressive, and it can read them faster than you can see them with your eyes."
While the car reader system could make an even bigger impact on car thefts. The overall implications perhaps are more important.
"Well they bring our ability to do our job better and hopefully lower crime, catch some bad guys, and put them away," Capt. Schneider said.
These new license plate readers could lower an already diminishing auto theft rate and also affect all other types of crime. If it's a car the police are looking for, then there's a good chance it's a car they'll find.
The Yakima City Council will discuss the $160,000 system during Tuesday night's meeting.