Florida ports seeing STARS
- By Eric Kulisch
- Oct 06, 2000
Three Florida cities are buying low-cost imaging systems for their seaports
to help stem illegal exports of stolen automobiles to Central and South
The Miami Port Authority ordered four Stolen Automobile Recovery Systems
(STARS), according to Jim Winso, Science Applications International Corp.'s
general manager for safety and security instruments operations. The Jacksonville
Port Authority ordered one system, and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale
is negotiating to buy two systems, he said.
STARS is designed to enable U.S. Customs officials and port personnel
to scan the contents of cargo containers without impeding the flow of commerce.
The system, similar to an X-ray, uses a small amount of Cesium-137 to emit
radioactive gamma rays that can be photographed when they penetrate the
container. The detector tower is placed near travel lanes or weigh scales
at a port checkpoint.
A technician at the remote center matches external video of the container,
the image of the contents and the manifest to determine suspicious cargo
that needs to be physically inspected or tracked by law enforcement officials.
STARS is a low-resolution system in SAIC's family of Vehicle and Cargo
Inspection Systems (VACIS). Each system costs about $250,000, Winso said.
The Miami and Jacksonville orders total $1.4 million, with Miami also ordering
tollgate equipment and a remote operating center. Both systems will be installed
by early next year, according to SAIC spokeswoman Zuraidah Hashim.
According to the industry-sponsored National Insurance Crime Bureau,
nearly 450,000 cars and trucks were stolen nationwide in metropolitan areas
with ports or close to international borders in 1998. Each year more than
200,000 vehicles are smuggled out of the country.
Miami ranked sixth in vehicle thefts (20,977) among port facilities
or international border areas. A six-week demonstration of STARS by the
Miami-Dade County Stolen Auto Task Force recovered about $230,000 worth
of stolen vehicles earlier this year, Winso said.