Chasing Tax Evaders ... On the Road

December 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Americans owe $345-billion dollars in unpaid taxes, but many times tax evaders are only caught if they're reported or if they fall victim to an IRS audit. Captain Ruben Santiago is patrolling the streets, but he's not searching for traffic violators, he's on the lookout for tax evaders.

Capt. Santiago said, "Every time you hear that beep, it's reading a tag."

Electrical engineers equipped his patrol car with four 360-degree cameras that scan license plates in just seconds.

"Just in the matter of the little bit of time we've been sitting here, we've already scanned you know 15, 20 cars very easily," said Captain Santiago.

Tag information is sent to a national database. If the driver is wanted for unpaid property taxes, an alarm sounds.

For the Richland County Sheriff's Department, the 22-thousand-dollar system has more than paid for itself.

Richland Co. Sheriff Leon Lott said, "Since March, we've read over 331,000 tags and recovered 91,000 dollars of unpaid taxes on vehicles."

And tax evaders are just the start ...

The technology can also be used to locate stolen vehicles, sex offenders and drug users.

"This car is probably doing what it would take 50 deputies two or three days to do and it can do it (snap) that quick," said Sheriff Lott.

Keeping the streets safer in a fraction of the time.


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