LONGMONT, Colo. -- A Longmont man has been ticketed $50 for suspicion of interfering with a traffic signal but says he really enjoyed using it.
Jason Niccum told The Longmont Times-Call that he bought a device, called an Opticon, on eBay for $100 that let him change traffic lights from red to green. He told the newspaper the device "paid for itself" in the two years he had it, helping him cut his time driving to work.
Niccum was cited on March 29 after police said they caught him using the strobe-like device to change traffic signals. Police confiscated the Opticon, and informed Niccum it was illegal to possess it.
"I'm always running late," police quoted Niccum as saying in an incident report.
An Opticon shines a strobe light on the optical sensors set atop traffic signals, causing lights to jam.
City traffic engineer Joe Olson says traffic engineers plan to update the city's system this year to block unauthorized light-changing signals. He estimated that a new system, which would be able to block out all unauthorized light-changing signals, will cost taxpayers about $75,000.
The Opticon devices, which are becoming more commonplace, are marketed through many different avenues. Dealers are instructed to sell only to "authorized users" such as volunteer first responders, doctors and security personnel, but it is easy for anyone to buy the devices on line.
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