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MN Considers Bill To Track Stolen Vehicles, But Some Cite Privacy Concerns

ST. PAUL (WCCO) -- Minnesota legislators are considering a bill that would give police more access to track stolen cars.

"It allows law enforcement or police officers to put a tracking device on a stolen vehicle, a vehicle that's reported stolen," said DFL Rep. Cedrick Frazier, a co-author of the proposal.

Frazier says the proposal is intended to reduce the number of dangerous, high-speed police chases.

The idea is that officers would attach GPS tracking devices instead of chasing, then they'd be allowed to track the vehicle for 24 hours.

The bill doesn't mention chases or any other specific situations. It says police would be allowed to use mobile tracking devices on any stolen car.

The broad language worries Rich Neumeister, a privacy advocate.

"We're not talking about a car chase where it's imminent danger," he said. "Maybe it's just a car sitting on private property."

When asked how he would change the bill, Neumeister said, "Put some barriers there. Just say 'exigent circumstances only.'"

Neumeister questions if the proposal as written raises issues concerning the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches.

Frazier believes the bill will help end police pursuits, as it is designed to do.

"If we can do public safety smarter or law enforcement smarter, we should always take the opportunity to do that, and I think this bill gives us an opportunity to do that," he said.

Under current law, police must either have a warrant or consent from the vehicle owner to use mobile tracking technology.

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