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San Rafael Mulls More Extensive Use Of License Plate Reading Cameras

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – Police in San Rafael are taking cues from other communities and looking to boost the number of license plate reading cameras being used as a way to crack down on crime.

They may not be obvious to the average person, but the cameras designed for snapping photos of car license plates see plenty.

Marin County's biggest city is now looking into expanding their license plate reading abilities and targeting crimes in neighborhood hot spots.

"We've been able to reunite people in missing persons cases or get dangerous people off the street who were involved in shootings or stalking their victims, said San Rafael Police Lt. Jim Correa.

Those successes come from the readers already in place on a few patrol cars and a mobile unit. Recently, neighborhood groups -- especially those in East San Rafael -- have come forward asking for more.

"I feel like if you didnt do something wrong, then what's the problem? said San Rafael resident Stuart Summers So it helps us be safer, then Im ok with it.

The question is where the money would come from to cover the cameras. It costs about $9,000 camera, not including installation and registration.

Tiburon and Pittsburg already have plate readers installed with much success. Pittsburg's system netted four stolen cars in the first week they were installed.

The cameras don't photograph faces. Instead they cross-reference the plate with the state criminal and missing persons database.

So while there are those who worry it might be too much, police say they think it'll be just what they need to make a dent in neighborhood crimes.

Now the city hall has the info, up to them to decide whether or not to move forward and how to proceed. There are several different options both in terms of types of cameras and on how to fund them.

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