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San Jose police to install more automated license plate readers amid retail theft surge

San Jose is turning to a little more tech to attack its growing problem of retail theft.

The San Jose Police Department is using millions of new state dollars to install 300 more automated license plate readers, especially at major thoroughfares and shopping centers.

Rocio Guerrero is the owner of Joyeria Martha and her store is one of the biggest shops in the La Placita shopping center in San Jose.

Guerrero said that she has good reason to welcome the police department’s expanded use of license plate readers. Her store was the target last year of these violent Smash and Grab robbers who rushed in and smashed through glass cases, stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of valuable items.

“That was the most scary thing we went through,” she said. “It was really fast. There was no time to think, like, ‘what to grab’ because we all here have weapons and stuff. But there was not even a chance to get them, you know? They just caught us off guard.”

It was part of a trend that police say saw San Jose retail thefts go up 25% from 2021 to 2022. But while Guerrero likes the idea of more licensed plate readers being set up around major thoroughfares and shopping centers, she worries the criminals will get around them.

“It’s really gonna help a lot with catching the license plates and all that. But they’re gonna find ways to try to block those license plates, you know?” Guerrero said.

San Jose Police Department told NBC Bay Area Thursday that they have thought about that.

“Often criminals will use different tactics to disguise their vehicles. Sometimes they won’t have a plate on the vehicle at all,” said SJPD spokesperson Steve Aponte. “It doesn’t matter with this new technology. This type of technology captures the vehicle as a whole, along with any license plate displayed and it could help detectives and officers who are actually in the field locate the vehicles as they’re fleeing the scene.”

Police didn’t reveal too many details about where the automated license plate readers will go for security. But they say they plan to have them all set up by the holiday shopping season and will continue to add more every year.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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