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Lookout Mountain gets license plate readers

License plate readers on a police car in Washington, D.C.

Residents of Tennessee and Georgia's Lookout Mountain put their money together to install license plate readers after they experienced several break-ins last summer, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on Monday.

The community members pooled their money and raised $88,000 among 238 people. According to town consultant Dwight Montague, there are five roads in and out of Lookout Mountain and they will have two cameras at each of them. One will take a photo of the license plate and the other will be an overhead view of the vehicle, the Times Free-Press reported. A sixth pair will be installed at Scenic Highway and Lula Lake Road.

The newspaper asked Lookout Mountain Police Chief Randy Bowden what the data would be used for:

"It won't even be looked at unless we have a reason to follow up on [a crime]," Bowden said.

Data will be held for about 28 days, Bowden said, after which time the digital storage will fill up and be overwritten by new data. While private donations paid for the system, the database will be housed in the Tennessee side's police station, and the two cities will pay for ongoing electric and fiber-optic cable bills.

Bowden downplayed any privacy concerns, pointing out that malls and other retailers use video surveillance cameras in the parking lot and inside the store.

"It's just like going to Walmart," he said.

In September 2013, the newspaper reported that in 2011 and 2012, the community had a total of four burglaries on the Tennessee side. They had four burglaries in August 2013 alone.

As of July 2013, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has 48 mobile license plate readers and one attached to the state capitol.