Hi-tech CCTV cameras part of new push to rid Victoria of petrol thieves

VICTORIA’S roads authority is spearheading a plan to catch drivers doing the wrong thing. Hi-tech numberplate scanners are the first step.

TECHNOLOGY is at the forefront of a push in Victoria to crack down on drivers who steal petrol or dodge parking payments.

Powerful cameras previously used only by police which are capable of instantly reading a numberplate and determining whether the vehicle has been used for committing previous offences are being offered to a number of industries.

The state’s roads authority VicRoads held a press conference on Monday afternoon, revealing the trial began in February and will be rolled out across Victoria.

Helen Lindner, VicRoads director of licensing practice, standards and solutions, said it was about providing airports, hospitals, petrol stations and shopping centres with “high-speed access to VicRoads vehicle registration database”.

“It’s actually quite simple,” she said. “Petrol station operators, hospitals, shopping centres, airports, have invested significantly in cameras and technology at their locations, so what we’re doing is enabling them high-speed access to our vehicle registration database so that they can link this together to get the full benefits of automation.”

She said they can access information immediately on a vehicle’s make, model and registration status which has previously been “difficult to access on a manual basis”.

Ms Lindner would not be drawn on whether the number of drive-offs have dropped since the trial began.

The measures were welcomed by retailers who say they’ve been left out of pocket and with no means of protecting themselves for too long.

Australasian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Jeff Rogut told the Herald Sun that with access to the data “the service station attendant would get a red flag and they would then not authorise the pump. If someone is not genuine they would hop back in the car and drive off”.

VicRoads is not the only one looking into new technology to fight crime. On Sunday, we learned the Victorian Opposition wants to use drones to protect prison walls when CCTV monitoring systems are down.

The plan, floated by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, would see drones patrol the walls of Victorian prisons to stop contraband like drugs and weapons getting inside.

“My government will use every tool at our disposal, like these drones, to crack down on any trouble from prisoners,” Mr Guy told reporters.

The Opposition says contraband is regularly thrown, hit or dropped over prison walls and fences, fuelling a prison black market.

CCTV systems have fixed locations, limited reach and they can also be destroyed by prisoners, making it easier for contraband to get in.

Drones would allow prison staff to continue to monitor the perimeter and gather intelligence when cameras aren’t operating, Mr Guy said.

“We have a zero tolerance approach when it comes to violent prisoners and criminals,” he said.

— with AAP


Extracted from NEWS

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