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In Rare Success, License Plate Reader Helps Cops Find Missing Man

Taylor Dobbs
/
VPR File Photo
License plater readers, like this one at the Winooski Police Department, helped find a missing elderly man this week.

Stowe police found a missing elderly man early this morning with the help of an Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) system.

Police got a call Wednesday evening when Edwin Tinker, a 78-year-old Jericho resident, didn't arrive to pick up a relative when he was supposed to. Tinker needs to regularly take a medication, and police said it was unclear how much he had with him when he went missing Wednesday.

Early Thursday morning in Stowe, Tinker drove by a Stowe PD cruiser equipped with a license plate reader. The officer stopped Tinker and he was "in good health, but confused," according to police. His family picked him up at the station in Stowe.

License plate readers have been the subject of much debate in Vermont, with civil liberties advocates raising privacy concerns and police arguing that the technology will prove useful - as it did in this case. A VPR investigation in Septembershowed that despite more than $1 million in investment in the technology statewide, there are few successes to show for it.

In Tinker's case, though, the investment yielded a return.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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