FOR SALE: License Plate Investigative Database that Tracks Your Location

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Private License Plate Scanners Amassing Vast Databases Open to Highest Bidders

Investigative Database - License Plate Scanner Data for Sale

Investigative Database – License Plate Scanner Data for Sale

Automated license plate readers used by car repo companies, for example, collect billions of personal records per year, which contribute to vast databases that can be used by law enforcement, insurance companies, banks, and the like, with few limits.

BetaBoston, working with the Boston Globe, detailed one Boston repo company’s data collection abilities, reporting that New England Associates Inc. can collect $200 to $400 for each vehicle found by an automated reader attached to an unmarked car. The company says it can typically add 8,000 license plate scans to its database in Texas each day.

Digital Recognition Network, which works with New England Associates, says it collects plate scans of 40 percent of all US vehicles per year.

According to the company’s own disclosures, Digital Recognition Network operates in conjunction with around 400 repossession outfits across the US, has increased tenfold its plate scans since September 2010, and adds 70 million scans a month.

The scanners use high-speed cameras and optical character recognition technology to scoop up 1,800 plates a minute, no matter the speed or driving conditions. The scanner also collects the date, time, and GPS location of each read, punctuating the privacy threats associated with plate scanning.

The legal scanners, which usually cost anywhere from $10,000 to $17,000, have few legal limits.

For example, law enforcement – which have used the scanners for years – often have prohibitions on how long they can maintain the information gleaned, but private use is open season for those willing to subscribe for the information.

The top commercial use of the devices falls into the auto finance and auto repossession industries, which both work closely with major banks to track down those who default on loans. Digital Recognition claims its clients include Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., HSBC Holdings, and Citibank.

Banks strongly encourage its repo contractors to use plate scanners, based on their efficiency in tracking down loan defaulters.

“The banks want it,” said Liran Cohen, owner of repo company Massachusetts Recovery Bureau. “All of them make a big deal out of it, since it gives them so much value.”

Yet with few limits, there is little, if any, accountability regarding where and how repossession companies use the scanners. Many companies that spoke to the Globe said they send spotter cars to commercial lots based on the amount of vehicles open for scanning.

Digital Recognition’s website lists “target environments” for repo agents, including “malls, movie theaters, sporting events, and numerous other locations.” The company also suggests repo agents trawl workplaces and commercial lots during the day and apartment complexes and residential areas at night.

Some commercial property owners call this practice trespassing.

“We’re unaware that this is happening, and we’re reaching out to our security teams and law enforcement contacts to get a better handle on it,” said Les Morris, spokesman for Simon Property Group, which owns at least one mall in the Boston area.

“If we saw scanning like this being done, we would throw them out,” said Issie Shait of New England Development, which owns the CambridgeSide Galleria and Bunker Hill Mall District.

Two repo companies said they target low-income housing areas, given the amount of yields collected in the past.

“This is just another example of stereotyping,” said Cambridge Housing Authority deputy executive director Michael Johnston. “But our lots are open, and we don’t have any gated communities in our system, so I don’t know how to prevent it.”

For its part, Digital Recognition said it cannot be blamed for how the scanners are used.

“We have nothing to do with the actual data collection process,” said Chris Metaxas, chief executive of Digital Recognition. “We provide technology to ¬repossession professionals.”

Over 60 Massachusetts police departments have adopted scanners since 2008. In December, the Boston police suspended plate scanner use after a Globe investigation found questionable data management – including the inadvertent public release of over 69,000 license plate numbers.

“Right now, it’s the wild West in terms of how companies can collect, process, and sell this kind of data,”said Kade Crockford of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. “The best legal minds, best public policy thinkers, and ordinary people whose lives are affected need to sit down and think of meaningful ways we can regulate it.”

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Forbes

Data Brokers Are Now Selling Your Car’s Location For $10 Online

Investigative Database License Plate Scanners

Investigative Database License Plate Scanners

The Berkeley Marina, a stretch of park and an enclosed yacht harbor, juts into the San Francisco Bay.

Visitors regularly drive there to admire the dramatic view that includes Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. When I lived in the area, I often parked my car, surveyed the vista for many minutes, then drove away if the weather did not prove ideal for windsurfing.

When fertilizer salesman Scott Peterson made his last visits to the Berkeley Marina from his hometown of Modesto, Calif., he had a practical goal in mind. He wanted to see whether his pregnant wife whom he had murdered had washed up along the shoreline. In the Peterson case a decade ago, police placed a GPS tracker onto his vehicles when they began to suspect that he was lying. Peterson had driven a few times to the marina homicide site, even though he told police he had only learned his wife had gone missing after returning from a fishing expedition to the San Francisco Bay. That GPS evidence eventually helped convict him of murder; he is now on death row.

I thought of this story, revealed at Peterson’s murder trial which I occasionally attended, when a prominent data broker announced two weeks ago that it had begun selling locational information on license plates that have been filmed and identified. In recent years, police have also widely embraced license plate recognition to track suspected criminals. Repo men use the technology to recover vehicles; casinos in Las Vegas employ it to monitor cars in their parking lots. And now data broker TLO has begun selling information about the time and location at which cars have been sighted.

“With a massive database of one BILLION vehicle sightings and the addition of up to 50 million new sightings each month, Vehicle Sightings provide valuable information for both locating subjects and investigating the historical whereabouts of both individuals and vehicles,” advertises TLO, a data broker that caters to lawyers, private investigators, law enforcement and insurance firms, among others.The service charges $10 per category of each license plate look up, divided into current, recent and historical.  Cars are photographed or filmed and then matched with license plate recognition software.

Initially I imagined a database that knew almost as much as a GPS locator: that you drove out of state three weekends ago, stopped off at the pharmacy on the way, spent the afternoon at a baseball game, then had dinner at a specific restaurant.

In reality, the feature is quite far from the all-knowing eye in the sky, although it can still reveal intimate clues. I searched for my own car, as well that those of two relatives with their permission. Of five cars that I looked up, three cars turned up nothing, but I found data on the other two.One car had a single sighting:  it was parked on Manhattan’s Upper West Side at 12:40 in the morning last December.  The report included a picture of the car and license plate. A link showed exactly where the car was on Google Maps. For another car, the search turned up data from August last year which showed it parked in Austin, Texas, a few minutes after noon. The lot was in front of a building of doctors’ offices, potentially revealing intimate information about that person’s activity that day.

Simple math suggests it may be a while before such license plate recognition systems can regularly spot specific vehicles. TLO advertises it has a billion vehicle sightings, but according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than a quarter of billion registered vehicles in the country.

That means TLO would hold an average of four sightings per vehicle.“While the coverage is nationwide, certainly there will be areas with more expansive coverage than others,” said James Reilly, TLO’s senior vice president of sales and business development. “Variables such as the amount of time the vehicles are stationed in inaccessible areas (i.e. secured lots at places of employment, gated communities, etc.) could certainly affect the number of opportunities for ‘sighting.’”

Law enforcement agencies are among  the biggest users of automated license plate recognition.

Forbes - License Plate Scanner Investigative Database

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Social Media Use Common among Neighborhood Crews & Street Gangs

Cyberspace Emerges as Law Enforcement’s New Battleground

Investigative Database - Cyber Crimes

Times Herald CLICK HERE

By Robert Rogers/MediaNews Group | Article Courtesy of: Times Herald

When gunshots ring out in Richmond, familiar scenes unfold. Calls to 911 and alerts from the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot-detection system trickle in. Police cruisers scream to the scene. Detectives show up soon after.

But other detectives go somewhere else: to their computers to troll Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media for clues, often provided by people involved in the crime who can’t resist boasting.

“We have seen situations where someone will commit a shooting or a homicide, and they’ll immediately write something on social media, ” said Matt Anderson, a Richmond gang detective. “‘Man down,’ ‘scoreboard,’ those are the kinds of phrases they’ll use, and it gives us a lot of clues about what just happened. ”

As social media increasingly have become an extension of who we are and how we communicate, it has emerged as a new battleground in the age-old struggle between Bay Area criminals and the detectives who seek them. Social media use is common among neighborhood crews and street gangs, who have inadvertently supplied police and prosecutors with troves of photos and other information often used to nab and then prosecute them.

However, law enforcement agencies with low-staffing issues like the Vallejo Police Department said they have not been using social media due to it being “labor intensive.”

“We do recognize the importance of social media,” Vallejo Capt. Jim O’Connell said. “But it’s something that’s part of our long-term plan. It’s just a personnel issue with us right now.”

Like braggadocio on a street corner or graffiti on a wall in yesteryear, gang members have come to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to tout their criminal prowess, taunt rivals, boast about crimes and even gather information about potential targets of violence.

“What we see on social media brings an insight that you normally might not otherwise see, ” said Jeff Palmieri, a veteran gang investigator for the San Pablo Police Department. “You can get a view of who a person is, what they’re about, and that not only helps us but can help a jury in a courtroom. Our intelligence information has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. ” Online postings can help prosecutors establish a level of intent, premeditation, motive and gang affiliation, said Derek Butts, a Contra Costa deputy district attorney.

During the 2012 murder trial of Joe Blacknell, 23, Butts used the reputed Richmond gang member’s MySpace account to prove to the jury that he committed numerous shootings in retaliation for the killing of his friend.

Among the evidence presented to the jury were photos of Blacknell holding an AK-47 while dressed in a shirt memorializing his fallen friend, and private messages sent to rivals and friends boasting about the demise of Marcus Russell, an emerging Bay Area rap artist that Blacknell was convicted of murdering.

“The MySpace photos and messages were very revealing to jurors, ” Butts said. “It’s one thing to have a gang expert testify about what the gang members say, but when you have the defendant’s own communications, it paints a very compelling picture. ”

The same is true in San Jose, where Santa Clara County deputy district attorney Lance Daugherty, who supervises the gang unit, said more than a quarter of gang felony cases involve evidence gleaned from social media.

“It’s such a widespread part of how we communicate today. Often, we get information about defendants who aren’t even on social media themselves, but their fellow gang members may talk about that defendant or post pictures of them to their own accounts, ” Daugherty said. “They know this information is being used in prosecutions, but they still do it; it’s part of their identities.”

Assistant Contra Costa County district attorney Tom Kensok estimates that evidence from social media factors into more than half of the county’s gang trials, although that number may be on the decline.

“In the beginning, a few years ago, it was often the equivalent of making a key find in a search warrant,” he said. “Back then, they never had a sense that these postings would end up in a courtroom, that they were far from the law. Now, that advantage is gone. ”

The advantage was key a few years ago to trials involving members of Varrio Frontero Locos, a subset of the Sureno gang, who committed a string of homicides in San Pablo.

“The gang members were driving around, hunting rivals, ” Palmieri said.

When a half-dozen members were arrested and sent to trial, Palmieri was a key witness, testifying to juries that the killings were done to advance the gang’s interests. He used photos from defendants’ Facebook pages to prove it.

“Their own pictures showed them flashing gang signs, alongside other gang members, and holding guns, Palmieri said. “The average sentence was 55 years to life. ”

The cat-and-mouse game online is endlessly complex and in constant flux. Amid the infinite realm of the Web, images and words, often in coded language, circulate throughout cyberspace. MySpace was a platform of choice among Bay Area gang members a few years ago but was overtaken by Facebook and YouTube.

Instagram is now en vogue, thanks to looser restrictions on identities and a platform that is more image-driven and esoteric in its messaging.
“Instagram’s popularity is a challenge, Anderson said. “It’s harder to identify people; the messaging is more coded. “

During an investigation last year that netted 11 arrests, including for charges of attempted murder, Anderson and his colleagues conducted extensive social media surveillance, and they discovered that the targets of their investigation were using social media to track rivals and plot attacks.

“Our investigation revealed that gang members will plan assaults based on disrespect of each other taking place on the social media, ” Anderson said. “They are pretty much doing the same thing we are doing, peeking around the social media accounts to gather information. “

Click HERE for the Complete Article… “Cyberbanging, as the communication is sometimes called… 

Times Herald CLICK HERE

Google Glass Gains Acceptance from Law Enforcement

The New York Police Department is Testing Google Glass

USA Today

Article Courtesy of:  USA Today

New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed the department is already using the smart glasses during a press conference last week.

“We’re in the process of field-testing that technology in a variety of circumstances, seeing where — if useful — where it might be most useful, most beneficial,” he said.

In December 2013, the NYPD obtained two pairs of the glasses, Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said.

In an email, Davis said the department regularly takes a look at emerging technology as a potential tool for policing. Glass has not been deployed in actual patrol operations, he said.

Currently, Google Glass is only available through the Glass Explorer Program in which those who feast their eyes on Glass apply online to become a part of the project. If approved by Google, Explorers can purchase the device for $1,500.

Google said in a statement the company did not actively approach and is not working with any law enforcement agency to offer tryouts of Google Glass.

“The Glass Explorer program includes people from all walks of life, including doctors, firefighters and parents,” read Google’s statement. “Anyone can sign up to become a Glass Explorer. The only requirements we have is that he or she is a U.S. resident and over the age of 18.”

The Los Angeles Police Department also applied to be Google Explorers, said police Sgt. Dan Gomez, who oversees the Tactical Technology Section for LAPD.

“We are looking to see how it could work and that doesn’t mean it will be used for patrol,” he said. “It could be used for other purposes but it’s hard to say what we would do without having it,” Gomez said.

Eric Farris, a police sergeant with the Byron, Ga., police department has tested Glass and said he thinks it could serve as a tool to solve investigations.

Google Glass Police Investigations

CopTrax, a surveillance vendor, collaborated with the Byron police department to provide officers with Glass during routine traffic enforcement patrol, stops issuing citations, arrests and during firearms practice.

“They had the CopTrax software loaded into the Google Glass and everything recorded with Glass was then recorded back to our camera system and police cruisers,” Farris said.

The San Francisco Police Department is in the process of outfitting its plainclothes officers with body cameras and won’t rule out Glass just yet.

“We have been looking at video cameras,” said Gordon Shyy, a public information officer at SFPD. “I don’t believe Google Glass is one of those, but we always look at any possibility with the current technology.”

Shyy said that the SFPD does talk to other agencies to see whether they like the equipment they are using, but the department has yet to speak with NYPD about Glass.

CLICK HERE for the Full Article…

USA Today

Article Courtesy of:  USA Today

Predictive Policing Software

Police play the odds in tracking crime:  Real Time Prediction Software Aids Investigations

Article Courtesy of:  Sun Sentinel

By Larry Barszewski | Article Courtesy of:  Sun Sentinel

Predictive Policing Investigative Database - LP Police

Predictive Policing – Link Analysis – Investigative Database – LP Police

FORT LAUDERDALE — It may not be a crystal ball, but police are testing a new system that more accurately predicts the likelihood of crime in your neighborhood.

The effort, called predictive policing, relies on computer software that analyzes information police have used for years, along with other data they may have never used before.

It can all be done in real time, quickly putting the information at the fingertips of police, possibly finding correlations they didn’t know existed.

A better name might be “probability policing,” said Jim Lingerfelt, of IBM, which developed the software, because the program tries to determine the odds of crime happening in a given area.

“You’re identifying those areas with the highest probability of a certain type of crime occurring,” said Lingerfelt, public safety manager for the company’s Global Smarter Cities initiative.

Palm Beach County police agencies have been exploring a similar idea through the county’s law enforcement exchange program.

Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander said the exchange hasn’t developed any predictive tools, but plans to do so after implementing some more conventional data analysis methods.

The IBM program will take whatever information officials download — from building permits and crime reports to bus routes and the daily weather forecast — to see what it can tell police about potential criminal activity.

Among the data that could be compiled: the release date of a burglar who frequently targeted your neighborhood. Or building permits, which might show your neighbors are putting on additions, a magnet for thieves stealing construction materials. Or it could be that police reports are documenting a pattern of car break-ins that indicates your street may be next.

“It’s very similar to the information they had before,” Lingerfelt said. “But before it was very cumbersome, very labor intensive and nowhere near as complete as what they’re getting now in a matter of seconds.”

Patrol officers can start off the day on their laptop checking out the trends in their assigned areas, which can help them figure out how best to spend their time.

Command staff can use daily reports to direct resources to potential hot spots.

“I think every day that we wake up, that we’re part of this law enforcement environment, that we need to be creative and innovative and come up with the next best method on how do we reduce crime,” Police Chief Frank Adderley said.

Commissioner Bruce Roberts hopes the program will help police identify and keep track of repeat offenders, which he said could go a long way toward lowering the city’s crime rate.

“Most of your crimes are committed by a core few criminals,” said Roberts, a former police chief in the city. “When they’re released, they’ve been arrested again.”

The city last week approved using $200,000 in federal law enforcement dollars to pay overtime to a task force of detectives, patrol officers and others who can be assigned as needed, based on the computer analysis.

lbarszewski@tribune.com or 954-356-4556

Article Courtesy of:  Sun Sentinel

Biometrics, Iris Recognition, Video Analysis & Predictive Software – “Most Wanted Police Tech 2014″

Embracing the Police Force of the Future

Article Courtesy of:  CNN

BGer Daly – Article Courtesy of: CNN

Predictive Policing Data Analysis Software

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Police forces around the world are fighting crime with new data-mining tools
  • San Diego’s streetcars have video analytics that can spot suspicious behavior
  • Major crime in Memphis fell 30% with software to predict where crimes might take place
  • Next on the horizon for law enforcement: biometrics, including facial recognition

(CNN) — Contrary to the Hollywood image in movies like “Minority Report,” technology hasn’t served law enforcement particularly well over the years.

Fragmented and complex operating systems have challenged police officers to manually enter information into multiple programs. And yet officers still struggle to retrieve the information they need — especially in the field, where it can be a matter of life or death.

A large number of law enforcement agencies are still hindered by antiquated technologies. But agencies that have upgraded their operating and investigative systems have been tremendously effective in ensuring the safety of their citizens. Police forces like the Guardia Civil in Spain and An Garda Siochana in Ireland were early technology adopters and now benefit from some of the most efficient police operations and investigative systems in the world.

These are the police forces of the future — the ones that others will be modeling themselves after in the years to come.

Accenture recently studied police forces from around the world and found that in every region, police are hungry for new technology. They see tech such as analytics, biometrics (identification of humans by their characteristics or traits) and facial recognition as keys to effectively fighting crime and maximizing the time officers spend in the field.

Despite the reality of reduced budgets, law enforcement agencies that adopt new technologies can prevent crimes more effectively and solve crimes faster.

ACLU raises privacy concerns about police technology tracking drivers

Video Analytics

Predictive Policing Video Analysis

What many people don’t know is that there’s a solid infrastructure of closed-circuit TV in most cities. Historically, these CCTV cameras — both publicly and privately owned — have been used retrospectively to examine crime scenes for evidence.

Images from street cameras along the Boston Marathon route helped identify the two bombing suspects there last April.

In California, the San Diego Trolley Corporation now safeguards light-rail passengers with a video-analytics system that can alert security guards when it spots suspicious behaviors, such as an unmarked vehicle in a pedestrian zone.

Cities such as London and Singapore also are testing pilot programs to apply predictive analytics to video feeds. Singapore’s government and economic leaders recently launched a one-year “Safe City” pilot program to bring automated analytics to existing CCTV infrastructure across the city. The program will apply predictive analytics to video feeds to detect which of a multitude of street incidents, such as crowd and traffic movements, pose real concerns for public safety.

These video feeds also will identify environmental threats to public safety, such as fire or flooding, as they arise. When a serious incident is identified, an alert will be sent to the authorities.

This program enables real-time information sharing and will give law enforcement deeper insight into public safety across Singapore’s densely populated urban landscape. It also will increase police ability to anticipate and respond to incidents as they occur.

Police embracing tech that predicts crimes

Data Mining & Predictive Analytics

Data Mining & Video Analysis

Other cities are using statistical analysis and predictive modeling to identify crime trends and highlight “hidden” connections between disparate events.

This helps police gain a more complete picture of crime, predict patterns of future criminal behavior and identify the key causal factors of crime in their area.

Police in Richmond, Virginia, adopted an advanced data-mining and predictive-analytics program in 2006 in an ambitious campaign to reduce crime. In the first year of use, the city’s homicide rate dropped 32%, rapes declined 19%, robberies fell 3% and aggravated assaults dropped by 17%.

Police in Memphis, Tennessee, also applied predictive analytics — which relies on data-analysis software to predict where crimes will likely take place — and saw immediate results. Serious crime in that city fell 30% between 2006 and 2010. Such technology also has been hailed for helping to lower crime rates in Los Angeles since its introduction by the LAPD in 2011.

And Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, uses an analytics model that brings together location-based crime and traffic-crash data to develop effective methods for deploying law enforcement and other resources. Using geo-mapping to identify “hot spots” — areas with high rates of crimes and car accidents — the parish saw the number of fatal drunk-driving crashes fall from 27 in 2008 to 11 in 2009, with a corresponding increase in drunk-driving arrests.

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Article Courtesy of:  CNN

By Ger Daly – Article Courtesy of: CNN