By on May 14, 2015

Paradise Valley Arizona Police

Police in Paradise Valley, Arizona are planning to install 15 license plate readers to aid in thwarting burglaries in the Phoenix suburb.

The LPRs are the result of an anonymous donation of $234,000 to Paradise Valley Police Department, with 11 of the devices set to be installed in fake cactus plants, Ars Technica reports. The goal is to continue to the decline in burglaries, falling from a peak of 195 in 2011, to a current low of 55 in 2014.

While privacy concerns are usually the norm surrounding LPRs, Paradise Valley residents are more concerned about aesthetics. Town manager Kevin Burke explains:

Everything in Paradise Valley is about the aesthetics. We’ll spend tens of thousands to cover up an electric box. We’ll spend hundreds of thousands to camouflage an electric substation. Our residents have spent hundreds of thousands or millions to bury overhead cables. Ugly posts are things that we do not want. But we do want people to know that these technologies are there. Probably we’ll end up putting a sign on it–half of the deterrent is knowing that people are there.

Regarding privacy, Burke says LPR data will be kept for six months, and will only be used to match plates with those on a hot list in case of criminal activity. However, parts of the datasets will be omitted from public view, while individual records won’t be released due to the city’s concerns about involvement in domestic disputes.

Further, the six-page LPR data policy lacks information on what safeguards, if any, are in place to prevent abuse of the data by officials, or how the data would be logged and audited. Burke says he’ll know if the LPRs are doing their job by clearance rates and reductions linked to burglaries.

[Photo credit: Paradise Valley PD/Facebook]

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31 Comments on “Phoenix Suburb Installing License Plate Readers To Thwart Rare Burglary Activity...”

  • avatar

    Here we go again with the paranoiacs & mouth breathers…..


    =8-) .


    • 0 avatar

      What’s more paranoid, Nate: worrying that government surveillance of your comings and goings in an unmonitored database could be abused, or agreeing to government surveillance of your comings and goings in order to deter burglaries that would be committed out of camera range, and have already dropped 75% without it?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Perhaps in light of the current level of trust as well as the rash of high profile incidents this money would have been better spent on body cams for all of the officers…you know, to thwart the “rare” incidents of misconduct.

      • 0 avatar

        “Perhaps in light of the current level of trust as well as the rash of high profile incidents this money would have been better spent on body cams for all of the officers”

        This is a very rich suburb; it’s highly unlikely the police would be involved in any incidents in which the residents would want anything filmed.

        They’d likely prefer the riff-raff be quietly disposed of. Body cameras would only get in the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Perhaps in light of the current level of trust as well as the rash of high profile incidents this money would have been better spent on body cams for all of the officers…you know, to thwart the “rare” incidents of misconduct. That might garner a little more trust from the public than this purchase.

  • avatar

    So we are going to spy on you in order to thwart burglaries instead of proactively policing.

    “anonymous donation of $234,000”


  • avatar

    I am from the government and I am here to help.

  • avatar

    The Snow Plow show prank podcast had a field day with this calling residents accusing them of littering from their cars or letting them know that the MRI scanner in the sensors had given them a clean bill of health

  • avatar

    It is fairly common for thieves to steal a vehicle to use in crime or steal a licence plate….. so how is a plate reader gonna help? Are the police going to get a warrant to search the vehicle or premises of every stranger that happens to pass through said neighbourhood?

    That anonymous donation of $234,000 would of been better spent getting that neighbourhood started on counselling.

    That is a waste of money and resources.

  • avatar

    Maybe as a thank you to the anonymous donor, they can wear a PVPD uniform, strap on a gun and run around playing pretend cop, you know to give back to the community……..

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    We have them here in OZ,all Police cars are fitted with them. They can read a plate at an Oblique angle too. They use them to find any sort of dodgy plate including unregistered vehicles. There is great money in it with fines imposed up to $1200 for unlicensed/uninsured vehicles. With 2015 technology,the plate read and diagnoses is instant .I have seen plenty of cars stopped in my suburb ,the plates are removed,the driver cited,and the car is locked up until a tow truck driver picks it up.
    The police car can be parked in off street car park facing a road at 90 degrees and will pick up any fake plates from quite a distance.
    sticking them in a fake cactus sounds like Get Smart to me…chief. After all a burglar with smarts could rent a truck with a fake ID/ license and drive through that area in the full knowledge they wont be zapped,or even ride a bicycle ,as a lot do .
    The English have used them on their Motorways for years too.

    • 0 avatar

      When police cars are fitted with a reader, the officer can be notified immediately and go after a suspect. Each read can be acted on (or not) and immediately discarded. The reader is basically an extension of the officer’s eyes, allowing the officer to be more effective.

      Here, where the reader is hidden in a cactus it is being used as blanket surveillance, not an extension of the officer’s existing eyesight. The way this information is useful is that it is stored and can later be trolled for profiling, that’s fundamentally different than the immediate action taken from a police cruiser reader.

      I’m not saying the cactus surveillance is good or bad, just that it is fundamentally different from how a police car reader could possibly be used. (I assume that the police car reader also makes records of all readings, but at least it doesn’t have to be that way.)

  • avatar

    Spot on ~

    When I lived in a really sketchy neighborhood of Los Angeles (Highland Park) in the 1970’s they decided to have a ‘ neighborhood Watch ” meeting , I didn’t go and my house was the _only_ one not broken into….

    gangs may be 99% cowards but they _can_ see what’s going on and take advantage .


  • avatar

    “…nor would it be releasing individual records under the state public records act. He argued that the city does not want to get involved in domestic disputes, such as one person retrieving information on an estranged partner.”

    If true, isn’t easy to follow the subjects car, wait for them to park, break a window and steal the registration which ironically contains the exact info a perp is looking for?

    Or better yet (and even easier) if a potential victim owns a house (especially true if they live in PV) go the Maricopa County Assessor website:

    Here (and in almost every county) you can locate any statistical info you want like name, address, year purchased, amount paid, taxes levied and paid, scanned docs with actual signatures (hear that forgers) all in one place… and best of all it’s FREE!

    After all this government mandated vulnerability now they need technology to read license plates plates to improve declining burglaries… seriously?

    BTW, I agree with 28-Cars-Later the one donating the money is the LPR manufacturer. See they did learn something from the Photo Radar fiasco. Make it look as if the citizens want it.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Paradise Valley pioneered in the whole photo radar thing in this country as a matter of fact.

      My friend who lives there swears that town residents mysteriously don’t get tickets. I’m not convinced. I think they just don’t have a hair trigger on speeds at which they ticket.

      I’m perplexed as to how a license plate reader would be helpful for burglaries. The city has a couple of very busy thoroughfares going through it. So, no help there.

      I guess if you set up the camera in a less traveled residential area and detected the same out of area car time after time, in an area with a series of burglaries that would be a lead, but they would have to be pretty lucky to turn that into a case.

      I guess the idea is to hassle people out of area who happen to be in the neighborhood as a kind of deterrent.

      This is a town that used to have William Rehnquist as city prosecutor, so they don’t have a fundamental problem with the concept.

    • 0 avatar

      Follow the money.

  • avatar

    Was the anonymous donor the NSA?

  • avatar
    John R

    “The LPRs are the result of an anonymous donation of $234,000 to Paradise Valley Police Department,…”

    Your Civil Forfeiture dollars at work!

  • avatar

    So all I need to defeat these is some colored electrical tape or pin stripe tape cut to the correct width to change my numbers…

  • avatar

    I’ve often wondered how anyone with a conscience or a sense of historical perspective could ever be a cop in Modern America.

    After all, the police in acknowledged totalitarian states like the former Soviet Union, Red China, North Korea or even New Jersey never think of themselves as willing accomplices of an intrusive, unjust system.

    No, they think of themselves as protecting society from criminals, or that they’re just doing they jobs, or something along those lines.

    I’m not saying that tracking license plate data is EXACTLY the same thing as herding class enemies into trains headed for Siberia, but it’s part of the same mindset – the state that does whatever it wants and can get away with.

    • 0 avatar

      OneAlpha – New Jersey??? Still upset about that “rollin’coal” ban?

      “I’ve often wondered how anyone with a conscience or a sense of historical perspective could ever be a cop in Modern America.”

      Substitute “white Anglo male” with cop and the point you are trying to make stays pretty much the same.

  • avatar

    Who will watch the watchers?

  • avatar

    I dunno….The Coast Guard?

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