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Fighting Tech with Tech: Red-light Camera Detectors Soon Available in Houston

Yo, leadfoot! Listen up, if you’re one of the 111,000 numbskulls who got nailed in the last year by Houston’s increasingly ubiquitous red-light cameras. You can go on paying those $75 tickets, or you can make an investment.

Next month, Best Buy and Circuit City are slated to begin stocking the Cobra XRS R9G, a standard wireless radar detector that also uses GPS to track intersections with red-light cameras. Chicago-based Cobra Electronics currently hocks the popular system exclusively on its Web site for $449.

Safety first.

You may have heard about the brouhaha over the detector back in June when

a Chicago alderman unsuccessfully tried to ban it

from the marketplace. His tortured reasoning: sure, it might save lives, but more significantly, it threatens to kill what has become an enormous cash cow.

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In Chicago, infractions involving red-light cameras have poured some $35 million into city coffers since they were first installed back in late 2003. Houston, like always, boarded the bandwagon late (think decent public transit, a revitalized downtown and the proximity of sex clubs to schools).

Even so, Space(d) City is on pace to rake in at least $8 million since installing the cameras last September. And, according to a story in today’s Chronicle picked up by the Drudge Report, more cameras are on the way – despite potential contract disputes and a lack of public notification.

For now, it seems Cobra Electronics has cornered the market on the camera detectors. We did a cursory search on Houston-based surveillance shops but came up empty. We did, however, come across a nifty semen detection kit and some other creepy innovations at Houston’s Spy Emporium. – Todd Spivak

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