(originally posted on dallasnews.com)

Car thieves and other scofflaws beware: Dallas is about to go high tech with its license plate reading technology.

On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council is likely to approve a contract to buy automated license plate readers for the Dallas Police Department.

The vote would authorize the initial purchase of 28 license plate readers at a cost of about $603,000, a five-year service contract for about $146,470 and allow the purchase of additional cameras in future years.

License plate readers “will allow law enforcement officers to patrol daily with the benefit of license plate reading in real time,” First Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez wrote in a memo to the city council members.

Once a license plate is read, the systems can check various law enforcement databases to see if the vehicle is stolen or determine if the registered owner is wanted.

“Many stolen vehicles have been recovered using this technology and the technology can be used as an investigative tool to aid in solving crimes that are more serious,” Gonzalez wrote.

To begin with, police plan to install 14 of the devices in patrol cars and mount another 14 at various sites throughout the city. The initial devices are being paid for through a combination of confiscated funds and donations from philanthropic organizations.

Police expect to buy a total of 140 license plate readers over the next five years.

The plan to buy license plate readers is a part of a larger effort underway to equip each of the city’s 27 hot spots with bait cars, surveillance cameras and license plate readers. Collectively, those areas account for about 40 percent of the city’s crime and about 6 percent of the geography.

Police officials have previously estimated the cost to be $300,000 per hot spot.

In September, 7-Eleven kicked in $300,000 to pay for high-tech gear to go in around Ross Avenue and Bennett Avenue in Old East Dallas and the Five Points area in northeast Dallas.

Safer Dallas, Better Dallas has been leading the effort to raise $3 million for the project.

By Tanya Eiserer/Reporter
You can follow Tanya Eiserer on Twitter at @tanyaeiserer