“If you come to Hammond and commit crime, you WILL be caught” Hammond Police spokesperson Lt. Steven Kellogg
September 14, 2018-Hammond Police are crediting the “blue net” license plate reader system with two recent arrests for auto theft. According to a statement from Lt. Steven Kellogg of the Hammond Police Department, police recovered two stolen vehicles and made two arrests in just 4 days as a result of the controversial system. “On September 5th at approximately 2:45 a.m. Officer Anderson received an alert from the LPR system on a reported stolen vehicle from Illinois. The vehicle was described as a silver Chevrolet Equinox. The LPR system indicated that the vehicle was moving east on 165th St from State line Ave.” Msgt Kizziah located and attempted to stop the vehicle according to Lt Kellogg. The driver sped up and Officer Anderson deployed a tire deflation device. The suspect ran over the tire deflation device and continued into Gary where he crashed into a fence according to Lt. Kellogg. The suspect fled on foot and was apprehended with the assistance of Lake Station Officer D. Wright and his K9 partner Dax. The suspect was arrested and charged with auto theft and resisting arrest.
On September 9, 2018, Hammond Police again were alerted to a stolen vehicle by the blue net system. At approximately 11:34 a.m., Officer Chorba of the Hammond Police Department located a stolen black 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee entering Hammond from Illinois. “The vehicle was occupied and confirmed stolen from Texas. The vehicle exited the business and Ofc. Chorba attempted to stop the stolen vehicle. Ofc. Chorba gave the driver commands. The driver disregarded commands and accelerated quickly through the intersection in an attempt to turn north onto Indianapolis Blvd. After running the red light, the Jeep was struck on the driver side by another vehicle. The driver exited from the front passenger side of the stolen Jeep and attempted to hide behind the vehicle. Ofc. Chorba was able to arrest the fleeing subject without incident. No one was injured during the accident. The suspect is being held on Auto Theft and Resisting Law Enforcement.”
Lt. Kellogg stated that the blue net license plate reader system has been a valuable tool in apprehending criminals in Hammond. ” “This system has been instrumental in traffic enforcement, locating stolen vehicles, and helping to solve crimes like burglary and robbery in our city.”
Privacy advocates have voiced concerns over the collection and sharing of data collected by the license plate readers. Hammond has contracted with Vigilant Systems of California for the system. Digital privacy website Electronic Frontier Foundation points out that just 0.2% of the data collected is actually used for law enforcement purposes. The collected data is owned by the Company and can be utilized with little oversight according to EFF. “The companies then share the data not just with law enforcement but also with auto recovery (aka “repo”) companies, banks, credit reporting agencies, and insurance companies. Data collected by private entities does not have retention limits and is not subject to sunshine laws, or any of the other safeguards that are sometimes found in the government sector” according to Electronic Frontier Foundation.