LAPD says every car in Los Angeles is part of an ongoing criminal investigation

Living in southern ca, if a car gets stolen here, it will be across the border by COB.

Aren’t Licence Plates and Drivers Licences provided by the Dept of Motor Vehicles? Which is under the governance of the State Police?
The plates are technically the property of the state and register your car, you, all your personal information, your criminal record with the Police database. It’s pretty much the only thing it’s designed for.
Cops routinely do licence plate checks, it’s their job. It’s how they can find parole breakers, people who don’t pay child support, stolen cars, kidnapped children. They do not need any warrant whatsoever, all that information you provided to them, and it’s critical to any investigation.
Interestingly enough, they do protect it as well… You can’t just call up or go to a web site to look up a licence plate. You have to file a request with a reason, or a complaint. A private detective can do this but it costs $$. Basically you have to file for a warrant to get it.

As for tracking plates, that’s just data gathering, and bear in mind, the police can put someone under surveillance for any reason, no warrant. But, since they really don’t have enough people or time, doing something like that would only be for really good reasons.

I totally agree about the dragnet crap that the NSA is doing… mainly 'cause it’s a huge waste of money for absolutely no results. But don’t bulk in legitimate investigation methods because we actually need those to work.

Lastly, all this stupid data collection won’t actually prevent any crimes, it may possibly help an investigation, but even more likely it could help innocent people by knowing their whereabouts and that they couldn’t be at the scene of the crime.

Considering just the example of johannsf here: Comparing the license plate seen at a particular moment to the database of vehicles reported stolen isn’t anywhere near as effective as being able to look through the historical record of scanned plates, looking for the one newly reported stolen. For one thing, there’s a delay between the vehicle being stolen and the police being made aware of that fact. Collecting data during that entire period expands the reach of police vehicles and cameras to all the areas where they were during that gap period. Even if they can’t retroactively intercept the stolen vehicle, they can narrow down the search to the area/direction it was last seen.

I think it’s great we can do this for cars. I mean, it must lead to actually tracking all guns in case they ever get used in crimes, right?

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There is this thing where I firmly believe a crime has to have been committed -before- evidence of that crime is sought.


I had a car stolen last year in Los Angeles, and the LAPD told me they were actively scanning license plates to find stolen cars. Despite this, they were unable to find my car.

A month after I reported it stolen, I received a letter from the LAPD that basically amounted to ‘hey, uh, it’s been a month, and sometimes car owners recover their own cars and don’t tell us. Did you do this?’ which was a nice way to salt the wound.

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Perfectly valid concern. I happen to agree. But it doesn’t negate my point: The police have reasonable grounds to believe they can solve more crimes by collecting and storing all license plate data to search through when they have reason to do so. Your ignoring that fact doesn’t change it.

Abuse of authority and invasion of privacy are strong counter-arguments to the policy, but let’s stop pretending it has no beneficial aspects at all.

‘‘Leads, yeah sure. I’ll uh, just check with the boys down at the Crime Lab. They uh, got uh, four more detectives working on the case. They’ve got us working in shifts.’’

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“Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking car.”

Ten to one that that information will be nigh-on impossible to obtain for name-clearing purposes…


Ten to one? Aren’t you the optimist. We can’t even get DNA to be used for name-clearing and it’s a hell of a lot more precise than proving you were driving your car at the time.

You can’t WHAT? Jesus…

Yeah, we’re up to a whopping 314 total DNA exonerations over here.

Well, you wouldn’t want the DA looking bad, now, would you. They’re only doing their jobs…

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…which is putting the right people in jail. Not just any old people.

I know this is going to come as a shock, having read the comments, but it doesn’t matter whether the LAPD 1) might find benefits in this search, 2) you feel it’s good or bad, or 3) you’ve devised a (dubious) method of evading it.

LA is within the United States of America. It’s government is subject to the constraints of the US constitution. The fourth amendment to the US constitution demands that searches be specific, and warranted. The LAPD is out-of-compliance with the law of the land.

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Correction: As long as there might be an unsolved crime some time in the future all citizens are suspects. We can’t just investigate crimes that have happened. We have to investigate ones which may never happen and arrest the pre-crime suspects.

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