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With the introduction of cameras in production cars, and the wide dissemination of wireless inter-vehicle communication devices in all new vehicles in the foreseeing future, emerging applications of this ldquoomnipresent hardware networkrdquo can be designed. That is the case of the localization process of a particular vehicle, as the result of a broadcasted search warrant from some particular authority. The system here proposed relies in the optical recognition of the license plate of the wanted car. We present some results of license plate recognition based on real-world images acquired in different driving conditions, as well as of simulation of such a distributed search in a large-scale urban VANET, that show the feasibility of the whole process. A cryptographic protocol is proposed to deal with the security issues of the system.