ENTIRE neighbourhoods were locked down in Ballarat yesterday as part of the biggest police road blitz ever seen in the city.
The police Operations Response Unit from Melbourne targeted Ballarat as part of a statewide operation, using the latest technology to catch unlawful drivers and vehicles.
At the Gillies Street setup, police detected 23 people driving illegally, mainly unlicensed drivers and unregistered cars.
They scanned 1996 number plates in just four hours at that site alone.
On a positive note, 652 preliminary breath tests were conducted at the one site and not one drink driver was detected.
The high-tech police blitz had visited the area before, but not on such a grand scale.
Sixty members of the response unit and 30 police cars from Melbourne hit Ballarat as part of Operation Monte, which used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology.
Click here for photos from yesterday's operation
Police saturated Gillies Street near Lake Gardens, Victoria Street and also hit Bacchus Marsh.
Thousands of vehicles had their number plates scanned and checked, providing some disturbing results for police.
There were also more than 1000 drivers breath-tested.
In half an hour on Gillies Street alone, The Courier witnessed one driver who was arrested after he was caught driving an unregistered car, without holding a valid licence.
Also caught were two female learner drivers in the one car.
And in less than two hours on Gillies Street during the middle of the day, there were an additional five unregistered cars detected.
Inspector Nigel Howard of Melbourne’s Operation Response Unit said although the results were to be expected by police, it would still come as a surprise to most people.
“You would be shocked how many people are driving around here either without licences or in unregistered cars,” he said.
“But if you drive with no licence we will catch you and put you off the road and drivers have to know that. You don’t know where we will be, but we will be around and we will get you.”
The technology works by scanning number plates with the high-tech cameras, instantly recognising any drivers or cars that are breaking the law.
Information is then communicated to waiting police further down the road, who are able to apprehend the offender, while breathalising other drivers at the same time.
The ‘We are the toll’ campaign was launched last month following predictions that the final 2012 road toll could be 30 to 40 deaths higher than last year.
The Victorian road toll currently sits at 109, compared to 107 at the same time last year.
Full statistics from the entire Ballarat operation are not yet available and police are expected to release them later today.