Tech trial to bust number plate theft

La Trobe University will trial digital identification technologies and number plate security measures to reduce number plate theft and cloning on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Minister for Roads Jaala Pulford was in Bundoora today to announce the start of new trials that will aim to improve vehicle identification and combat number plate theft and misuse.

One technology being trialled is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) inside a sticker on a vehicle’s front windscreen which will act as a third number plate.

The sticker self-destructs when removed, enabling police to identify vehicles that are suspected to have a stolen or cloned number plate.

The second technology is Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), a new digital technology that can communicate with road infrastructure and could also be used to identify automated vehicles in the future.

Additional security features for number plates, like holographic patterns on driver’s licences and passports will also be tested.

New digital identification methods would make it harder for an offender to hide a vehicle’s identity as the additional identifiers will not match a stolen or cloned number plate.

La Trobe’s Centre for Technology Infusion will conduct the trial.

“Our Centre has extensive experience in applying next generation digital technologies to solve industrial and socially relevant problems,” CTI Director Professor Aniruddha Desai said.

Following a global technology search, our Centre will evaluate how selected technologies perform in live deployment and how reliably they can provide tamper-proof digital vehicle identification information in a cost effective and efficient manner.”

The trials will determine how the technologies operate in practice and how they will integrate with existing systems including Automatic Number Plate Recognition currently used by police.

In the 12-months to September 2018, Victoria Police recorded more than 19,000 incidents of number plate theft.

Stolen and cloned number plates are often used to hide a vehicle’s identity when committing other crimes such as ram raids, petrol drive-offs and toll evasion.

Helen Lindner, VicRoads Director Registration and Licensing Practice, Standards and Solutions said Victoria was leading the way.

“We are proud to lead this Australia-first research and technology trial with government and industry, and know it will go a long way to help reduce number plate theft and cloning.”

The trials are a partnership between VicRoads, Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victoria Police and La Trobe University.