International Intelligence Agency, which also produces a license plate capture and identification system for law enforcement agencies, launched MVTRAC in the spring,
"Over 85 percent of the recoveries in America are performed by some 15 lenders in the country, and we have signed [or expect to sign] up 12 major lenders nationwide," says Scott Jackson, CEO of International Intelligence Agency.
Jackson is hush-hush about which companies are talking, but he does say Volkswagen became a client in September along with several other automakers.
VW Credit Inc. uses the system, but Volkswagen isn't very talkative.
"Ultimately, we need to be able to locate and recover our assets. License plate recognition technology is one way to do that," Jill Bratina, director of corporate communications for Volkswagen Group of America, said in an e-mail. "It is too soon to quantify the advantages of license plate recognition technology over other recovery methods as we just recently deployed the MVTRAC system."
MVTRAC uses optical character recognition technology programmed with automatic license plate recognition algorithms to snap photos of license plates -- as fast as one second per plate.
MVTRAC's software cross-references this to relevant databases such as the ones at VW Credit and designated finance companies. If a delinquency is identified, the vehicle's location and necessary documentation is sent to a recovery agent in a tow truck for immediate pickup. The MVTRAC data are updated every three hours. "The number of repossessions has gone up, and the number who have gotten away" also has increased," Jackson says.
There are no upfront fees, he says. The lender is charged $300 when a vehicle is found.
Jackson's company purchases license plate photos from 8,000 sites nationwide, such as airports, stop-sign cameras, security cameras on buildings and traffic cams. Additionally, the company has 100 mobile camera units that snap license plates on roadways, in parking lots and other places. Those plates are added to the MVTRAC database.
But does it work?
Jackson says that since May, several hundred vehicles have been tracked down.