HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Police have an extra set of eyes looking for criminals, specifically their license plates. They’re looking to add more to the force as staffing shortages continue.
The system is called the automated license plate reader or ALPR. It uses a pair of cameras mounted near the lightbar of the police vehicle to scan 1 to 2 lanes across, including opposite directions and parked cars.
“Everyone knows that we are short staffed but what these newer cameras can do is they can be a force multiplier, the more eyes we get on the road the more cameras we get on the road the more we can keep the community safe,” Honolulu Police Department Cpt. Parker Bode said.
The readers can pick up personalized plates, electric vehicle plates, or even the state’s national park or Polynesian Voyaging Society plates. The plates are run against a database of wanted or missing people and stolen vehicles.
“Last month in August the system detected 39 vehicles with stolen plates, 30 vehicles that were stolen and three wanted vehicles,” Cpt. Bode said.
Just last week HPD arrested a woman after an officer’s ALPT alerted an outstanding plate in Kalihi. The plate turned out to be fraudulent and the vehicle was also stolen.
Last Christmas, an officer stopped when a plate was flagged in an empty business lot.
“She gets out of her vehicle she does her investigation, she hears the sound of a saw,” Cpt. Bode said. “Knowing that it’s peculiar because it’s Christmas she goes to the sound hops the fence of this business and actually sees two suspects who are cutting the catalytic converter from company vehicles.”
The suspects were arrested and charged.
License plates can be a hot commodity. Honolulu resident Robert Huber said he got a new one after being rear-ended but still ended up with a parking ticket in a place he’d never visited.
“I folded it in four ways and crumpled it and threw it away and evidently they unfolded it and put it on a car and got a ticket, and I got a ticket,” Huber said.
If you have old plates, you can turn them into the DMV or really, really destroy them.
“Cut it up or just take it to the DMV and say here, you keep it!” Huber said.
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HPD currently has 21 cameras. The department is working with the Department of Defense approval to grant funds to purchase more upgraded new cameras.