The University of Colorado Anschutz Police Department this month is pleased to launch a new program that it believes will help deter ongoing motor vehicle theft trends. Police have partnered with Flock Safety to install license plate-reading cameras (LPRs) at all entrances to campus to identify license plates of stolen vehicles and/or those associated with outstanding criminal warrants.
When the camera identifies a match with law enforcement databases, it sends an immediate notice to CU Anschutz Police’s dispatch center, so officers can respond to the area. “In many cases, thieves are coming to campus in a vehicle that’s previously been reported as stolen,” Police Chief Randy Repola said. “When that occurs, we receive an instant notification that gives our officers a better chance at interceding and arresting these criminals.”
LPRs becoming important tool
In recent years, LPRs have become an important tool for police officers to combat rising motor vehicle theft in the Denver metro region. Several local cities use the cameras and have noted a related decrease in crime.
|To learn more about how the cameras work and an FAQ, see Flock Safety’s website.
“Just on your commute from your home to campus, chances are you have already passed dozens of traffic lights with LPR cameras,” Repola said. “Thieves can steal cars in a few minutes, so having this technological advantage enhances our ability to intervene.”
Repola acknowledged that some may have privacy concerns with the LPRs. The chief noted that recorded license plate data is hard-deleted from databases after 30 days, unless it is part of a criminal investigation.
‘We respect privacy concerns’
“We have no interest whatsoever in license plate data on law-abiding citizens, nor will we share that information with others. We respect the privacy concerns,” Repola said. “We are only interested in reducing crime by seeing license plate data for reported stolen vehicles and those with warrants.”
Colorado leads the nation in auto theft, and, unfortunately, Denver and Aurora are two of the prime targets for thieves. CU Anschutz is not immune from this regional trend and last year saw more than 100 reports of stolen vehicles, the vast majority of which were Kias and Hyundais parked in the hospital lots. Last month, Hyundai and Kia announced the release of a new software patch that can make their vehicles more difficult to steal.
Guest contributor: Ryan Huff, University Police communications