City says R14m project has proved its worth

Athina May

The City of Cape Town says its R14 million investment in automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology has proven its worth after it tracked a car reported stolen in Table View two years ago.

The green Volvo sedan, was first identified in Cape Town CBD by a law enforcement auxiliary service member Ryan Morris, who ticketed it for being unlicenced.

The Volvo’s details didn’t reproduce clearly on the carbon copy in Officer Morris’s pocket book, and when he attempted to verify the registration number with the traffic services control room, he found the car had been reported stolen in 2014. The ANPR technology then found the Volvo was frequently used in the Table View area.

Table View police recovered the car on Thursday March 31 and the owner was contacted.

“It emerged that the car was the subject of a sale, but the owner never received payment and had been unable to locate his vehicle for the past two years,” said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.

“This was an immense stroke of luck for the vehicle owner and showed great dedication from our auxiliary member. This case is an example of how the technology we are investing in is able to help track down criminals and ensure justice for law-abiding residents.”

The ANRP technology acquired by the City is fitted onto existing CCTV cameras in certain areas, such as Table View, and can identify outstanding warrants of arrest when scanning a particular number plate.

It can also determine whether a vehicle has been suspended; whether it has mismatched number plates and or whether it is an unlicensed vehicle.

Mr Smith said R8 million would be spent to install ANPR hardware in law enforcement and metro police vehicles and a further R6 million would be spent on installations alongside existing metro police-operated CCTV cameras in the City, to improve invisible policing.

“It is envisioned that approximately 100 CCTV cameras, or 25 percent of the department’s 436 cameras, will be retrofitted with ANPR capabilities.

“These investments are part of our drive towards a more intelligence-driven policing approach. Residents are constantly calling for more visible policing, but I dare say invisible policing is the way of the future,” said Mr Smith.

Meanwhile, he said the demand to join the City’s volunteer law enforcement auxiliary service (LEAS) was so high the safety and security directorate had budgeted R4m for the service for the current financial year.

The City has more than 500 registered LEAS members who have police powers of arrest, search and seizure.