License (Plate) to Track

She may not be real, but I’ve got some advice for that girl Emily. If really want to keep track of a straying spouse, track his license plate.


Jealous lovers may soon have an alternative to sniffing for perfume to catch a cheating mate: Just follow their license plate.

In recent years, police around the country have started to use powerful infrared cameras to read plates and catch carjackers and ticket scofflaws. But the technology will soon migrate into the private sector, and morph into a tool for tracking individual motorists’ movements, says former policeman Andy Bucholz, who’s on the board of Virginia-based G2 Tactics, a manufacturer of the technology.

Bucholz, who designed some of the first mobile license plate reading, or LPR, equipment, gave a presentation at the 2006 National Institute of Justice conference here last week laying out a vision of the future in which LPR does everything from helping insurance companies find missing cars to letting retail chains chart customer migrations. It could also let a nosy citizen with enough cash find out if the mayor is having an affair, he says.

Or it could let a suspicious spouse find out if the other half is stepping out.

Just one more step in the tracking of everything and everyone. But wouldn’t this be easier with GPS? After all, it works for lost dogs, gang members.

Emily could just get her husband a new phone, say from Sprint or Verizon, but that might make him suspicious. (Then again, a billboard is pretty big tip-off.) But chances are he already has a mobile phone and, as I noted earlier, anyone with a mobile phone can be located and tracked. Next time she wants to hit the joint banking account to send a message to Steven, Emily might consider signing on with AccuTracking, World-Tracker, or U-Locate. The more subtle and probably also cheaper than putting up billboards across the country.