San Leandro police recovered a stolen truck and arrested its driver Sunday using a computerized license-plate tracking technology that was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article on the growth in surveillance techniques.
The automated tracker photographs license plates, records the time and place of the image, and compares the plate to a list of vehicles wanted for some reason.
In the case reported by authorities, a San Leandro Police officer was driving this specially equipped patrol vehicle at about 1 pm Sunday when the tracking system issued an alert of a stolen white GMC truck in the vicinity.
The officer looked around, noticed the truck pulling out of a parking lot on East 14th Street and followed it a short distance before it pulled over it in the 100 block of Castro St.
Two subjects jumped out of the stolen truck but officers on the scene arrested and detained both subjects without incident, police say.
Police identified the driver of the stolen truck as 29-year-old Matthew Gonzalez of San Leandro. He was placed under arrest for possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of burglary tools.
The passenger of the vehicle was released.
Police say the truck was stolen in Oakland during a carjacking in the suspect was armed with a handgun. No weapon was recovered during Sunday's arrest and San Leandro police say they do not know whether Gonzalez was involved in the carjacking.
In the Wall Street Journal report, San Leandro school board member and political activist Mike Katz-Lacabe obtained the records of his license plates surveillance and found that his cars' movements had been captured 100 times by San Leandro police. He objected to the capture and permanent retention of information on the movements of people who are not wanted for any crime.
At a community forum after the story was published Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli said the tracking technology helped the department solve crimes. She said permanent retention of the records could aid in future investigations. Policies to prevent the improper use of the information would prevent abuses of the system, she said.