Minneapolis police are now using special cameras to read license plates, and the information is available through public records.
Certainly there are groups like the ACLU who are concerned about privacy, but police are using these license plate readers to track down people breaking the law -- everything from stolen cars to criminals with outstanding warrants.
The cameras record millions of license plate scans, including when and where the vehicles are. That's very useful information to someone looking to repossess a car, and that's why one car lot owner is using that information to help his business.
Jake Ingebrigtson is the co-owner of Cars and Credit Connection, a used car lot in South St. Paul. He sells more than 100 cars a year, mostly to people with bad credit. With that comes a few bad deals.
For the past four months he has been trying to track down one of his cars because the buyer stopped paying. When he learned about the massive database, he filled out requests for four different vehicles that he needed to repossess and came back with useful information on three of them.
"The submission (took) about an hour and a half of my time and about $4," Ingebrigtson said. "And I was able to find the vehicle immediately. Even if this is the only car I get as a result it's definitely worth it."
The city of Minneapolis has ten plate readers, mostly mounted on squad cars. Lawmakers are considering new statutes that could reclassify license plate data to keep the information from being misused by the public, but Ingebrigtson says if that were to happen there should be some type of exemption for lien holders on a vehicle.