A San Jose councilman is proposing a new approach to recovering and perhaps deterring stolen vehicles in the Bay Area's largest city.
City Councilman Johnny Khamis says the city should equip parking enforcement officers with automatic license plate readers.
The idea is while the officers are out checking for expired meters, they’ll be using technology to help find reported stolen cars.
"It’s a way to make more efficient use of time, to get cars back sooner and, I hope, to deter people from stealing cars in San Jose," Khamis said.
San Jose resident Marcus Chayrez had his Honda Civic stolen and didn't get it back until a month later, completely stripped.
"Someone stole it from in front of my house," he said.
Khamis says the license plate readers would also allow patrol officers more time to respond to other crimes.
The devices cost nearly $300,000 and are already used by the San Jose Police Department in other capacities. But there are still some concerns.
"Compliance officers are not police officers, so they don’t need our license plates," resident Matthew Mars said. "It is not their job to run down stolen vehicles."
The American Civil Liberties Union also has concerns about privacy. It wants to implement legislation to prevent law enforcement and government employees from using license plate devices to track people's movements.
Khamis said that won't be an issue.
"We will not hold onto information unless a car is stolen," he said.
Khamis said since parking enforcement officers come in contact with so many cars every day, it just makes sense to let them play a role in getting stolen cars back to their owners.
"I think it would be a good idea if parking people had plate readers," he said. "Maybe they’d find a lot more stolen cars."
Mayor Sam Liccardo's budget plan, being released Friday, should reveal whether or not the proposal gets the green light.