New high-tech devices help Chicago police combat carjackings

Chicago police are expanding their crackdown on carjackers by now being able to track license plates within seconds.

They're called license plate readers, or LPRs. They scan license plates on moving or parked vehicles and feed the plate numbers into a database. An alert sounds if the plate belongs to a vehicle which was stolen, carjacked, or has been suspended by the state.

Equipping a vehicle with a license plate reader costs about $25,000. 44 of them are already in use, and, by May 1, another 200 will be on the street, with at least six in every police district.

“So to all those people who are stealing cars, hijacking cars, I got a line for you,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “There are 244 license plate readers coming on the streets of Chicago, and they're looking for you.”

Police say the data they receive back after a license plate alert includes important details on vehicle owners and carjacking suspects.

“You want to try and get as much information on that car or that person that you're dealing with before you even stop them, and that's what this technology is allowing us to do now,” said Chicago Police Officer Mike Wozniak.  

The Mayor says a combination of more cops, federal prosecutions, and LPRs helped reduce carjackings by 18 percent last year, over the big spike which occurred in 2017.