LATIFPA and the National Insurance Crime Bureau Honor Baton Rouge Police Department and Mayor Kip Holden for Success of License Plate Recognition and Bait Vehicle Programs

February 17, 2011

At a press conference held at the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) today, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon recognized Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, Baton Rouge Interim Chief of Police Charles Mondrick, and Lieutenant John Murnane and Corporal Duane Cothren of the Baton Rouge Police Department for the great success of the license plate recognition (LPR) and bait vehicle programs over the last several years. These devices were awarded through programs initiated by the Louisiana Automobile Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (LATIFPA) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). Commissioner Donelon was joined by NICB Area Director Fred Lohmann and NICB Special Agent Charlie Peters in honoring those involved in the success achieved with this auto theft and insurance crime tracking and locating equipment.

“It is great to see how successful the Baton Rouge Police Department has been over the past four years with the use of license plate readers and bait vehicles provided by LATIFPA and the NICB,” said Insurance Commissioner Donelon. “I am pleased that the Department of Insurance was able to assist in the placing of these crime stopping devices with the Baton Rouge Police Department.”

“Insurance fraud accounts for 10% of the property and casualty insurance industry’s losses and those losses are passed on to you by way of higher premiums,” said Commissioner Donelon. He added that the average household pays over $950 a year in additional premiums to cover insurance fraud. “Vehicle theft is one type of insurance fraud,” said Donelon, “which is why this high level of success by the Baton Rouge Police Department with license plate readers and bait vehicles is so important to all citizens of the Baton Rouge area.”

“We are seeing reductions in statewide and local vehicle theft statistics in part as a result of the Baton Rouge Police Department deploying the LPRs and bait vehicles and working diligently with these and other new devices,” noted Commissioner Donelon at the press conference. Partly due to the work of LATIFPA and the Baton Rouge Police Department, Baton Rouge has succeeded in reducing its motor vehicle theft rates by 23% in 2010, according to preliminary data from the 2010 FBI Uniform Crime Report. The number of vehicle thefts in four of Louisiana’s largest metropolitan areas dropped by 19% in 2010 according to this data. Those cities include Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and Lafayette.

LATIFPA awarded its first license plate reader to the Baton Rouge Police Department in 2008 through the License Plate Recognition (LPR) Program. Since that time, this technology has scanned over 1,000,000 license plates, which resulted in the recovery of 124 stolen vehicles valued at $1,183,525. The Baton Rouge Police Department has also recovered 47 stolen license plates and made 85 individual arrests in connection with these recoveries. This technology is not only effective in apprehending car thieves and recovering stolen vehicles, but it has been proven effective by law enforcement authorities in tracking Amber Alerts, locating car-jacking suspects/vehicles and enforcing traffic violations. These license plate readers have also resulted in the location of suspects wanted for armed robbery, burglary and other crimes.

LATIFPA awarded its first bait vehicle to the Baton Rouge Police Department in 2006 through the Vehicle Investigation Prevention Enforcement Response (VIPER) Program, which has resulted in approximately 165 arrests.

East Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden commented that, “LATIFPA is a strong partner with the Baton Rouge Police Department in fighting vehicle theft. By donating bait vehicles and license plate readers, LATIFPA is advocating on behalf of our citizens in fighting crime and we are grateful for their continued support and assistance. It has been an honor to work with a group that is so committed to stopping vehicle theft and bringing criminals to justice in our area.”

Under the LPR Program, the technology used is designed to capture pictures of thousands of license plates from moving or stationary vehicles, process and send the images to a centralized data base and within seconds determine if the vehicle matching the license plate has been reported stolen.

Under the VIPER Program, vehicles donated by insurance companies and equipped with systems funded by LATIFPA are granted to law enforcement agencies. The technology installed in these vehicles utilizes computers, satellites, and tracking devices, which alert police when the bait vehicle has been entered. Once the bait vehicle is deployed, police wait for a signal to be transmitted alerting them when the bait vehicle has been entered or moved so that law enforcement authorities may proceed to apprehend the criminals in the act of stealing the bait vehicle.

“License plate readers and bait vehicles have provided remarkable results for the people of Baton Rouge. They allow us to work smarter by taking advantage of advanced technology to stay a step ahead of criminals,” Interim Chief of Police Charles Mondrick said.

The Baton Rouge Police Department was awarded license plate readers and bait vehicles through a competitive application process that selects and ranks law enforcement agencies with city populations of 50,000 or more. This equipment has also been operational under these programs in Shreveport, New Orleans, Calcasieu Parish and Livingston Parish.

LATIFPA was created by the Louisiana Legislature in 2004 and is a public agency whose purpose is to combat motor vehicle theft, including fraud by theft and other criminal acts. LATIFPA may solicit and accept gifts, grants, donations, loans and other assistance from any public or private entity or person for the implementation of its programs.

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