PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — State police in West Virginia were able to track down and arrest the University of Pittsburgh researcher accused in his wife’s cyanide poisoning death with the use of license plate reading technology.

But what is it? And how does it work?

License plate reading technology is something that is now being used by law enforcement across the country, including several police departments in our area.

Police in Castle Shannon are now using the technology. The system, which they recently put into patrol cars, cost $15,000.

“Especially in our agency of our size where we might only have three or four police officers out in the field at a time, this is just an extra set of eyes,” said Chief Ken Truver, of Castle Shannon Police.

The system automatically captures license plate numbers and compares them to a database through a processor in the trunk, making it easy to track down suspects, stolen vehicles and even abducted children.

“These are infrared cameras. They read in the rain, they read at night. They read 35 to 40 miles an hour, going in the opposite directions,” said Chief Truver. “If we gets a match, it will alert.”

The computer snaps a photo, too, so police know which vehicle to pursue.

The cruisers in Castle Shannon have three cameras to capture license plates – one to see cars coming, one to see cars going and one to capture cars parked on the side of the road.

Husband Arrested, Charged In Doctor’s Cyanide Poisoning Death (7/25/13)
Automated License Plate Readers Now Aiding Local Police (11/20/12)
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