Phoenix Suburb Installing License Plate Readers To Thwart Rare Burglary Activity

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

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]

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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