WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Police in West Hartford are trying out some new technology to help them find missing people and stolen cars. License plate readers have been mounted around the town as part of a pilot program.

You may not even notice it as you drive by. The license plate reader is on a black pole with a solar panel on top and it is pointed at a stoplight. As cars go by, it instantly scans the license plates, sending a signal to police if a plate needs a second look.

“We’re detecting vehicles that are stolen or people who are missing or even Amber Alerts or Silver Alerts. If they go through one of the cameras, it will pick it up and alert us that the person is nearby and where they might be,” said Lawrence Terra, West Hartford Police Department assistant chief.

Thousands of license plates are being read every hour as traffic passes by the new scanners. More than a dozen of them are in place around the city, and the town is testing them to see if they can help prevent or solve crimes.

“If a license plate is tagged for whatever reason, if somebody takes that off and puts it on a different vehicle, it will still hit that same license plate,” Terra said.

Police cruisers have been using this kind of technology for years and state police are currently using them on the highway to detect stolen vehicles or Amber Alerts.

“Its been around for many years. In fact, there’s at least 9 or 10 departments in the state that are already using this particular product with this company,” Terra said.

State police has shown News 8 in the past how effective the scanners are in the car. In West Hartford, they believe they will be equally as effective monitoring the streets.

One of the readers was mounted in front of Kaitlin Olsen’s house.

“For those purposes it’s good, as with anything I guess it could go dark side too, but I think for the most part it probably has good intentions at the start,” Olsen said.

For now, this is just a trial program. It goes through June and officials will take the data and look at it to see if it should be implemented on a permanent basis.