Authorities from Paradise Valley in the US state of Arizona have turned to fake cactus plants in a bid to identify vehicles of interest.
The fake plants are fitted with traffic cameras, which monitor the number plates of passing cars to isolate those which are recorded as stolen or the subject of an ‘amber alert’.
Fox News reports that local police refused to discuss the issue when questioned, and city management offered only basic information on the cameras.
Town Manager Kevin Burke said the cameras were yet to be switched on, and that all of the cameras intended for use with the unknown program would be installed before the public would be informed as to their use.
Cactus plants were reportedly chosen to “look aesthetically pleasing”, and several other fake cacti in the area already house mobile phone communication equipment.
The fear for some residents is that cameras used for monitoring vehicles of interest could soon be monitoring the speed of passing vehicles as well.
Vehicles with speed-detecting equipment have been seen (or not) hidden among trees, behind road signs and parked between other vehicles.
Cameras have also been reported in ‘wheelie’ bins and are known to be hidden under the eaves of bridges to catch vehicles as they pass underneath.
The practice is even encouraged in Victoria, with the state altering its guidelines in 2013 to allow cameras to be hidden and used at the bottom of steep hills.
We’re not aware of cameras hidden in cacti anywhere in Australia yet, but the idea of saltbush or gumtree cameras will no doubt appeal to Australia’s state and territory governments…
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