Ever have the feeling you're being watched? If so, you're not crazy. Automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) are just one more way the government keeps tabs on citizens.

(Sample photo from state.nj.us)


New Jersey started using the scanners five years ago, and was one of the first states to do so thanks to federal funding for license plate readers, according to watchdog.org. Police say the rapid speed with which these tools can retrieve data about a vehicle helps to identify expired registrations, suspended licenses, and criminal activity.

While law officials cite security concerns (specifically, anti-terrorism) as reasons for using ALPRs, their placement at locations like the Freehold Raceway Mall and Eatontown Mall raises the question of whether the equipment is really just a revenue generator for the state.

What do you think? Are the scanners there to gain money for municipalities or keep the public protected and in order? Share your stance in our poll below.