A system for detecting stolen cars

After two years testing of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology for the French Ministry of the Interior, the system is proving its worth.

Since March 2007, the French Ministry of the Interior has been overseeing the operational testing of ANPR technology, as developed by Sagem Sécurité (SAFRAN Group). This system can be used for reading vehicle number plates both while at a standstill and in motion, then comparing them with a registry of pre-registered number plates (of stolen vehicles or vehicles implicated in certain crimes or disappearances of individuals), so contributing to the government's drive to reinforce its crime-fighting initiatives. "We have obtained results that are entirely in line with the specifications laid down by the Ministry, which stipulated better than 80% recognition of moving vehicular traffic," explains Michel Le Roy, director of the ANPR program at Sagem Sécurité. "Furthermore," he goes on to say, "we have defined an extremely simple user interface so that the system can be used without any particular training." Consequently, between March 2007 and September 2008, some 350 vehicles were able to be located or identified as suspicious. More significantly still, the average number of vehicles matched against the registry of stolen vehicles leapt from 10 to 2800 per day. According to Denis Perret, ANPR program manager at the Ministry of the Interior: "This represents a massive hike in efficiency, without having any effect on the rest of the police officer's work or saturating the airwaves. It has been a real success."

A highly user-friendly system
With its finely-studied ergonomics, the system is intended to be easy to use. Number plates are read by a camera mounted on an articulated arm on a police vehicle, which is controlled via a touch screen. The image is then analyzed by the ANPR system computer onboard the unmarked vehicle, on which the latest version of the stolen vehicles registry has previously been saved. In the event of an alert, an onscreen message indicates how to proceed (immediate action or surveillance). What is more, Sagem Sécurité provides stations for encrypting the stolen vehicles registry, in order to prevent any fraudulent manipulation.

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