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4/20/2010
Australia: Facebook Page Undermines Covert Speed Camera Effort
Facebook page exposes covert Queensland, Australia Police Service speed camera vehicles meant to entrap motorists.

Covert speed camera cars
The motoring public in Queensland, Australia has foiled a police effort to deploy "covert" speed cameras across the state. Police have expanded their fleet of unmarked vehicles equipped with automated enforcement devices in an effort to boost the number of citations issued. The idea is to ensnare drivers "anywhere, anytime" by blending in with ordinary vehicle traffic in vehicles as diverse as a Toyota sedan, a Volkswagen Golf, a Mitsubishi Lancer, a Subaru WRX, a Hummer H2, and various types of trucks and SUVs.

"The underpinning philosophy of Queensland's speed camera program is general deterrence, designed to create the perception in the minds of motorists that speed cameras may be deployed anywhere, anytime," a police statement explained. "The deterrent effect is fundamentally linked to the random scheduling of speed camera operations -- the unpredictability of which is intended to encourage motorists to adopt more responsible driving behavior at all times while on the road."

Officials call the covert vehicles "Q-Cars" after the heavily armed World War II merchant vessels known as Q-ships that were designed to lure and destroy German U-boats. Although Queensland had an extensive unmarked car program in the 1980s, officials dropped them in 1991. The program was revived at the end of 2009 after a two-month trial of a pair of covert speed camera cars resulted in 1265 citations, including 25 tickets for "undue noise" and tire smoke.

Earlier this month, the Facebook group Police Cars, Gotta catch 'em all began undermining this effort by cataloging each of the covert vehicles as they were spotted on the road. The page has already uncovered a number of tricks employed by police, including driving cars with bumper stickers and student driver emblems intended to fool people into thinking the vehicles are not police cars. The page also caught a Holden Rodeo Speed Camera and other vehicles trying to camouflage themselves on the side of the road.

"I spotted the VZ ute on Compton Road today, sneaky bugger hiding in the trees," user Brian Lee wrote.

Queensland Police Service officials were not pleased by photographs (view sampling of photos) being collected on the page.



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