If you live in Virginia and owe back property taxes, you should probably leave your car parked in the garage. That's because a few local police departments and towns are now using license plate readers provided by the Department of Homeland Security to spot people who owe back taxes and then impound their vehicles.
Multiple agencies across the state were able to purchase automatic license plate readers thanks to grant money they received from Homeland Security's terrorism prevention program. But, rather than use them for security purposes, some seem to be using them to fill local coffers by collecting taxes.
The sheriff's department in Newport News use police vehicles with license plate scanners to locate vehicles belonging to people who owe $200 or more in unpaid property taxes. They will then impound the vehicle within three days if the taxes aren't paid.
In Hampton, the city sends out a minivan with a license plate reader every day to track down vehicles belonging to people who owe just $5 or more in back taxes. Isle of Wight hires a private company with its own license plate readers to carry out tax collection and enforcement.