skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 248635 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Combating Auto Theft in Arizona: A Randomized Experiment With License Plate Recognition Technology
Author(s): Bruce Taylor; Christopher Koper; Daniel Woods
Date Published: February 2015
Page Count: 72
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 2007-IJ-CX-0023
Sale Source: US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
810 Seventh Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Program/Project Evaluation; Report (Grant Sponsored); Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document; Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report presents results from a randomized experiment conducted by the Mesa Police Department (Arizona) to counter auto theft, using license-plate-recognition (LPR) technology.
Abstract: The use of LPR technology resulted in 8 to 10 times more plates checked, nearly 3 times as many “hits” for stolen vehicles, and twice as many vehicle recoveries than manual license plate checks and normal patrol. All “hits” for stolen plates, all arrests for stolen vehicles or plates, and all recoveries of occupied vehicles were attributable to the use of the LPR technology. The experiment was conducted in two phases. Phase 1, which lasted 30 weeks, involved LPR operations that targeted high-risk roads, based on analyses of auto theft and recovery locations and the input of detectives. An additional 27 routes were randomly assigned to serve as a control group for the analyses of trends in auto theft. These routes received normal patrol operations without the use of LPR. In phase 2, which was conducted for 18 weeks, operations shifted to larger “hot zones” of auto theft activity. The zones averaged approximately 1 square mile in size. Fifty-four hot zones were identified and randomly assigned to the same conditions as in Phase 1. At randomly selected times during Phase 2, officers worked 18 zones using the LPRs and another 18 zones using manual license checks. The remaining 18 zones served as a control group that received only normal patrol. The study did not find any evidence of crime displacement or a diffusion of crime control benefits associated with either form of patrol in either phase. The report also discusses study limitations, issues for future research, and policy implications of the results. The LPR technology is explained in detail. 9 tables and 105 references
Main Term(s): Police effectiveness
Index Term(s): Automated License Plate Scanning; Crime analysis; Crime specific countermeasures; Geographic distribution of crime; Motor Vehicle Theft; National Institute of Justice (NIJ); NIJ final report; NIJ Resources
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.