Programs & Services

Automated License Plate Readers

Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology, also known as License Plate Recognition, provides automated detection of license plates. ALPRs are used by Rancho Santa Margarita (RSM) Police Services (Orange County Sheriff's Department) to convert data associated with vehicle license plates for official law enforcement purposes, including identifying stolen or wanted vehicles, stolen license plates, and missing persons. ALPRs may be used to gather information related to active warrants, homeland security, electronic surveillance, suspect interdiction, and stolen property recovery.

The City of Rancho Santa Margarita joins 12 of 13 OCSD contract partner cities that lease or own ALPR cameras. In Orange County, several local law enforcement agencies also use ALPR technology. Police departments worldwide, including the Orange County Sheriff's Department, have successfully utilized Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems to assist with locating stolen or wanted vehicles for many years. 

ALPR technology captures digital images of license plates on vehicles as they pass cameras strategically located throughout the City. License plates are quickly scanned and cross-checked against a law enforcement database, and an alert is sent to law enforcement if a vehicle is identified as stolen or wanted. They can also send alerts if a vehicle associated with a missing person in an AMBER or Silver Alert is detected. ALPR Cameras are not used for speed or traffic enforcement and are not a citation tool.

More information about ALPR technology can be found at

City of Rancho Santa Margarita Administrative Regulation 500-05

OCSD Mandated Policy Sections - ALPRs