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Tuscon, Arizona Ticket Cameras Tweaked
Tuscon, Arizona vigilante spins a set of red light camera and speed cameras so that they point toward the ground.

Traffic Cameras Targeted logoA set of cameras designed to issue traffic tickets at a Tuscon, Arizona intersection were left photographing the ground over the weekend after being hit by a vigilante. Four traffic cameras had been used to record video of passing vehicles at the intersection of South Wilmot Road and East 22nd Street. The automated system captured multiple images of drivers and license plates so that red light and speeding tickets could be sent through the mail.

It is believed that a large motorcyclist on Saturday climbed up a pole so that he could hang off of each of the four traffic cameras until the "J-bar" holding them in position broke. This allowed the cameras rotate until they pointed directly downward, incapable of issuing citations.

American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the Scottsdale company that operates the ticketing program, quickly dispatched a team to assess the problem yesterday. It found that although one camera can be re-positioned, three others will require a temporary road closure to complete more extensive repairs. ATS hopes to have the cameras back in service today and to work with police to find the vigilante.

"ATS is reviewing the video and will share it with local authorities," ATS spokesman Josh Weiss told TheNewspaper. "We look forward to seeing the criminal behind bars."

Although camera vandalism is common in Europe and Australia, it is relatively rare in the United States. The most recent reported incidents involved the shooting of a camera in Tennessee in November and the smashing of a control box in California last August. In 2006, the German company Traffipax had to lock down its speed cameras with chains after one of the devices was stolen in Girard, Ohio. The only other reported incident of a camera being bent happened this January in New South Wales, Australia. According to a witness, the device had been used "to do chin ups."

Although a photo enforcement opponent is likely responsible for Saturday's incident, photo enforcement supporters have been accused of more extensive vandalism in the past. In a March 2007 memo, ATS claimed that Dallas-based rival Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) "physically severed all of the network cabling within the District's facility" after ATS won the rights to operate the Washington, DC photo ticketing program. (View the full memo, 1.6mb PDF format)