Van scanning for parking scofflaws


If you’ve seen a van around town scanning license plates don’t worry, it’s not big brother trying to keep tabs on you, just new technology being tested by the San Diego Police Department to detect stolen vehicles and reveal time-limit violators.

Spokeswoman Monica Munoz said a new van named Auto-Vu is being used in a 90-day pilot project “to create higher visibility in the areas where there are parking challenges because of people violating parking laws.”

Auto-Vu reads license plates in areas with high-car volumes, like parking lots or along city streets, to find stolen vehicles via character-recognition software that reads license plates.

“People were parking and then erasing the marks put on the tires by parking enforcement officers in their scooters,” said Munoz.

“With the photos taken by the Auto-Vu van, we can determine if the car has been there past the one- or two-hour time limit. We are also checking to see if the vehicle is stolen, and checking to see if there are outstanding unpaid parking citations on that vehicle.”

Auto-Vu has been operating in La Jolla during normal parking enforcement hours, Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to about 4 p.m.

The pilot program began in August and will end Oct. 31.