License Plate Reader Technology Enhances the Identification, Recovery of Stolen Vehicles

As law enforcement agencies take advan­tage of advanced technologies, the opportuni­ties for using data from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to help with investigations increases greatly.

One of these technologies, License Plate Readers (LPRs), captures license plate images by using external trigger signals. LPRs may be mounted on patrol vehicles or placed in fixed sites such as at border crossings, interstate highway on-ramps, and toll booth plazas.

LPRs read retroflective and non-retroflec­tive license plates, capturing plate images and automatically generating and archiving lane and date information as well as a time stamp for each image. The information is then searched against specified databases that can aid in the identification and recovery of stolen vehicles. Database responses can be used to control access to specific locations or to cross-check for access violations.

NCIC vehicle data used by LPRs

The NCIC data supplied to agencies for use with LPRs includes vehicle information from the Vehicle, License Plate, Wanted Person, Protection Order, Missing Person, Gang, Known and Appropriately Suspected Terrorist, Supervised Release, and Immigration Violator Files and the National Sex Offender Registry.

The extract is compiled and refreshed twice a day and is provided to participating agencies via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or secure e-mail.

The LPR Program was approved in June 2004 by the CJIS Advisory Policy Board (APB) and successfully piloted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Currently, 46 states, the District of Columbia, 33 local agencies, and 1 federal agency have formal agreements with the FBI to receive the NCIC information for the purpose of using LPRs.

Also as a result of the LPR technology, surveyed agencies located a total of 818 subjects listed in the Wanted Persons File and 19 people included in the Missing Persons File. Another 2,611 persons were apprehended

Agencies share usefulness of NCIC vehicle data

In March 2011, the CJIS Division canvassed states and agencies participating in the LPR project. The agencies responding (which included 10 state agencies, 71 local agencies, and 1 federal agency) reported a total of 1,102 stolen vehicles recovered with a value of more than $6.5 million, as well as contraband recovered that included stolen license plates, stolen property, vehicles, drugs, weapons, larceny proceeds, suspended registra­tions, credit cards, and a police badge. Also as a result of the LPR technology, participating agencies located 818 subjects listed in the Wanted Persons File and 19 listed in the Missing Persons File. Another 2,611 persons were apprehended.

About the NCIC Program

The mission of the NCIC Program is to provide real-time, accurate, and complete criminal justice and intelligence informa­tion that enables law enforcement and the intelligence communi­ties to identify terrorists, apprehend fugitives, locate missing persons, identify unidentified persons, recover stolen property, and protect innocent persons. The NCIC Operations and Policy Unit is responsible for the management of the NCIC Program. The LPR Program is just one of many successful NCIC initiatives that help the CJIS Division’s law enforcement, national security, and intelligence community partners.

Law enforcement agencies that would like information on the LPR program can contact Ms. Buffy Bonafield at (304) 625-2752 or