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Cameras that read 263,430 license plates in Menlo Park net a single arrest

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Fascinating experiment in police surveillance in the town where PandaWhale is currently located. Menlo Park is an odd community even for Silicon Valley, mixing some of the most NIMBY-tastic old money -- although it is staunchly anti-growth, its famous Sand Hill Road neighborhood has the highest rents in the nation -- with pockets of poverty and violence.

Turns out that a year ago the town decided to spend $58,000 on an experimental license plate reader program which seems to ultimately be run by Homeland Security. After 3 months, turns out that the police scanned more than a quarter million license plates -- and caught ONE lowly car thief. Although the police force claims that the deterrent value is high, I'm super skeptical considering that 1) I'm pretty well informed and had no idea this program was in effect; and 2) the scanners are attached to police cars, which I'm guessing have the greater deterrent effect.

The surveillance state is hard to get rid of once it gains a foothold.

Irvine just got those too.  I was pulled over on my way to the office, after I already was in the parking lot.  I hadn't put my sticker on yet, so the officer gave me a lot of crap because she had to look up that my registration was actually what I said it was, up to date and in good standing, but I couldn't show it to her as my car had been emptied out just two days earlier from a thief.   I think she thought I was lying to except for the fact I had filed a police report.   I must have been her first stop ever as after I left, they had two other cars all reviewing her performance. 

Are there any cases of surveillance cameras actually being useful?

Or just mostly for harassing citizens?