Italy: Police Raid Speed Camera Company
Yesterday, Italian police raided the Brescia headquarters of a speed camera manufacturer accused of fraud involving seventy municipalities throughout the country. Officers from the Guardia di Finanza, the law enforcement arm of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, seized computers, machine components and fifty speed cameras as evidence. Salerno prosecutor Amato Barile ordered the raid after discovering that municipalities located hundreds of miles apart were using 512 photo radar units bearing the same individual serial number.
Under Italian regulations, each camera used for issuing citations must be properly calibrated and approved. By cloning serial numbers, the company avoided testing requirements. Prosecutors also believe that some of the seized cameras were calibrated to ensnare motorists adhering to the speed limit would receive citations.
As a result of a criminal conspiracy, 81,555 tickets worth 11.3 million euros (US $16 million) fraudulently issued between 2007 and 2009 have been canceled. Refunds will be issued and license points will be removed.
The consumer watchdog group Codacons wants permanent changes in the law, including banning the ability of municipal governments to pad general funds with photo ticket revenue and a minimum five-second yellow warning time at intersections. In January, the makers of the T-Red brand of red light cameras were similarly arrested for fraud after prosecutors found motorists were being trapped at intersections with short yellows and improperly certified equipment.
“That yet another seizure has happened on the national territory demonstrates how municipalities are using illicit means and violating the law in order to make cash,” a Codacons press release stated.
Yesterday’s raid was given the code name “Operation Devius.” The investigation is ongoing.
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Bravo to Italian prosecutor Amato Barile. I have no tolerance for the use of "traffic enforcement" as a revenue source. Besides it being unjust in and of itself, the unintended consequence of lawmakers treating laws with such contempt leaves less room for the citizenry to take any law seriously. The damages are beyond the traffic enforcement itself.
And from our friends up North... Red light enforcement cameras in Ottawa, Ont., Canada, are catching unexpected prey: cops, Firefighters and paramedics. The resulting C$180 tickets stand since province law requires emergency vehicles to stop at red lights before passing through, and slowing down to a crawl isn't good enough. The city won't back down, and has required the agencies involved to pay C$11,000 (US$10,000) so far. (Ottawa Citizen) Good to see municipalities standing up for the rights of it's citizenry!