Roll camera action: Chennai cops find new way to crack vehicle thefts

The police have already fed registration data of around 3,200 vehicles, which were reported stolen since 2021, into the system.
Policemen inspecting a portable tripod camera at a vehicle checkpoint
Policemen inspecting a portable tripod camera at a vehicle checkpoint(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: In yet another feather in the khaki cap of Chennai police, they have found a compelling solution to mitigate the vehicle theft menace. Under their Integrated Vehicle Monitoring System (IVMS), the personnel have to just add the registration number of stolen vehicles to their database, and consequently, whenever a vehicle with this number is spotted on the over 100 ANPR cameras strategically positioned in 28 locations, a real-time WhatsApp alert is automatically sent to the police.

One to two cases of vehicle theft are being daily solved through this method alone, said a senior police official. IVMS is a web-based application developed in-house by the Greater Chennai Police at a cost of `1.8 crore. It has helped the police trace stolen vehicles in a matter of just weeks and return them to their owners. Earlier, such cases would remain unsolved for a long time as tracking a stolen vehicle in a metropolis with more than 60 lakh vehicles was akin to searching for a needle in the haystack, the officials said.

The police have already fed registration data of around 3,200 vehicles, which were reported stolen since 2021, into the system.

When the number plate of a stolen vehicle is spotted by one of these high-resolution Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, the system reconciles it with backend data and generates a real-time WhatsApp alert containing details of the type of vehicle, the case number, the year it was registered in and so on. This alert is sent to the police personnel investigating the case as well as senior officials like the assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner.

Around 80 static cameras are placed at 28 strategic locations, including traffic junctions, and 50 moveable/tripod ANPR cameras are used by the police during road checks. These cameras also generate photographs of the vehicle and the rider,  giving investigators clues about their location. The cameras can capture clear images of the vehicle number plates even in varying light or weather conditions.

Later, the special teams constituted in every police district utilise these alerts and images to track the vehicle and the accused at the earliest, the official said. For instance, the St Thomas Mount police received a complaint about a Bajaj Pulsar theft a few months ago. Last week, the police received a system-generated alert about the bike crossing the Parrys Corner junction.

Within a few days, the investigating official traced the bike and arrested the accused. From the crime investigation perspective, police officials say stolen vehicles are used in crimes like chain and mobile phone snatching, robberies, and murders for gain. The IVMS also assist in solving these cases quickly.

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