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first_imgLA HABRA HEIGHTS – La Habra Heights could become the first city in California to install a fixed system that automatically tracks vehicle license plates and checks them against a statewide crime data base. The automatic vehicle recognition system, which will cost the city $45,970 to install at two locations, will photograph every license plate and vehicle that drives past. Four cameras will be installed at the two locations – two facing in each direction of traffic. If a stolen vehicle is photographed, the system automatically notifies the Sheriff’s Department, City Manager Ron Bates said. But officials also envision it as a tool to stop other crimes, like illegal dumping and child abductions, he added. “It should limit illegal dumping and/or help us catch the perpetrator very quickly,” Bates said. “It might have an impact on any type of robbery.” For example, if a vehicle comes into the city loaded with trash, then leaves empty, the system would catch that on camera, he said. It could also help in the event of an AMBER Alert, or could spot a car in which the occupants are wanted for other crimes. “Conceivably if their car came into our city, they would be detected and located,” he said. The city should have the system installed and operating by as early as July. But officials will not reveal the exact locations of the cameras for security reasons, Bates said. The city is using California Law Enforcement Equipment Funds – a state grant program – to pay for the program. While the automatic license plate recognition system is used in other cities, La Habra Heights would be the first to install the cameras at fixed locations. Other cities are using the system in patrol cars. Sheriff’s officials in La Mirada have installed one in a patrol car there, while one patrol car used by the Whittier Police Department also is equipped with the system, officials said. La Habra Heights’ geography makes it ideal to install the system at fixed spots, Bates said. “Most cities don’t have the limited access points that we do,” he said. “In covering a couple of locations on Fullerton, Hacienda and West roads, we can probably cover 85 percent of the people coming into and exiting the city.” Lt. Cheryl Newman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the system will be used solely for public safety. “It’s not a system where a jealous husband or wife wants to know who visited another house,” Newman said. “It’s not designed to infringe upon anybody’s privacy.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more