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TV detector vans go under cover

PUBLISHED: 19:25 26 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:03 03 March 2010

DETECTOR vans are going under cover to screen for TV license cheats - using SAS-style technology that pinpoint a TV within the nearest centimetre within seconds.

DETECTOR vans are going under cover to screen for TV license cheats - using SAS-style technology that pinpoint a TV within the nearest centimetre within seconds.

More than 870 people in Ipswich were caught out last year – and TV license chiefs are determined to keep up the heat on non-payers by launching a new generation of covert vehicles that can look like any other van.

TV Licensing today (24 June) has unveiled the tenth detector van to be hit the streets since the first in 1926 and over 50 years since TV detector vans were first introduced.

The new vans, which not only use the most advanced technology available, are also the first to be designed with removable TV Licence branding - which makes them look like any other white van on the streets.

Vanessa Wood, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: "These new vans really are a case of 'now you see it, now you don't'. By having the option of being able to remove the TV Licensing logo, licence evaders won't know we're in the area unless we want them to.

"This is the first time we have used covert vans and they will be only one part of our activities to target licence evaders."

Last year in Ipswich TV Licensing caught 873 evaders. The technology developed especially for this new generation of vans means that evaders are even more likely to be caught.

"The new vans are so powerful they can tell if a TV is in use in as little as 20 seconds. And once the television is detected, the equipment - which works from up to 60m away - can pinpoint the actual room that the television set is in," added Ms Wood.

For the first time the detector vans will use GPS satellite technology to track down targeted addresses.

The military have used this hi-tech gadgetry to guide special forces, including the SAS, to targets on operations in Iraq and elsewhere.

Now TV Licensing can line up evaders in their sights using up-to-the-minute information from its database of 28 million addresses.

TV detector vans help TV licensing catch around 1,200 evaders every day. Anyone caught without a licence risks a trip to court and a fine of up to £1,000.

It is illegal to use or install television receiving equipment to receive television programme services if you are not properly licensed.

* For further information about the many ways to buy a licence or the concessions available please call 0870 241 5590 or visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk .

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