SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The San Jose city council has approved funding for license plate readers as part of the effort to combat the recent rash of smash and grab thefts at retail stores. 

San Jose has committed $250,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to expand the city’s deployment of automatic license plate readers, not unlike these traffic cameras mounted on fixed locations near Santana Row. 

It’s hoped the ALPR’s, as they are known, will deter the mobs of thieves targeting retail stores but they will help solve other crimes as well, says San Jose police officer Steven Aponte.

Police have had some success using similar devices mounted on vehicles and a reader helped them track down burglary suspects recently at the Grand Century Mall. 

A would-be-mob was seen covering their license plates ahead of a foiled robbery at Valley Fair last month. 

The readers are seen as a strong deterrent to such theft but by no means the only deterrent.

Critics of the plan cite privacy issues associated with tracking people’s movements, gathering and storing information. 

San Jose’s plan restricts the use of data to investigate felony crimes, not vehicle code violations and there would be no sharing of information with immigration.