HomeCity NewsLicense Plate Reader Sparks High-Speed Chase for SMPD

License Plate Reader Sparks High-Speed Chase for SMPD

The San Marino Police Department added its latest entry to Southern California’s storied history of police chases this past weekend, when one of the city’s new license plate reader cameras picked up a vehicle allegedly used in prior crimes.
The automated license plate reader picked up the vehicle at 7:33 p.m. Saturday, after which a patrol officer was sent to pull over the driver. According to the San Marino Police Department, officers had pursued the same vehicle — a blue 2014 Jeep Patriot SUV — in a chase in recent weeks but eventually called it off because of poor road conditions.
“We’re picking up a lot of stolen cars” with the cameras, Police Chief John Incontro said. “We had seen the car in an earlier incident.”
The driver, a 45-year-old Beaumont woman, initially pulled over near the intersection of Sierra Madre Boulevard and California Boulevard. However, when officers were standing outside and asking her to step out of the vehicle, they said the woman suddenly accelerated and sped away.
Those officers chased the woman through San Gabriel, Alhambra and Monterey Park before she led them to Beverly Hospital in Montebello, stopping in a driveway near the emergency room. Incontro said there was a brief “standoff” before the woman surrendered to police custody. He added that the woman claimed to have COVID-19 and that officers followed the appropriate protocols as a result.
“No one was exposed,” he said.
There were around five vehicles from SMPD and Montebello Police Department involved in the pursuit, and helicopters from the Pasadena Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also assisted.
Incontro said, per policy, he planned to review a report of the pursuit to see whether it fell within typical guidelines for safety and urgency.
“We’re taking another look at making sure everyone’s following protocol,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to look at the report of this one, but we always do that.”
The woman’s vehicle allegedly had mail taken from a home in unincorporated L.A. County, as well as drug paraphernalia and someone else’s identification, inside. On top of those alleged crimes, she was arrested for evading police, being on active probation for evading police and for being an unlicensed driver.
Incontro pointed out that the department has handled a large number of stolen vehicle reports lately or pulled people over based on their vehicles being reported as associated with prior crimes. This is largely because of the department’s new cameras for reading license plates. He said this helped both push back against targeted crimes and crimes of opportunity.
“The cameras are really helping us catch folks that are involved in crimes and who are probably going to commit crimes in the city,” he said. “By us stopping with them, interacting with them, arresting them or letting them go, depending on what we have, I think we reduce the possibility of a crime being committed.”
Burglaries are down in recent months, the police chief said, and “that, I think, is a sign that the cameras are working.”


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