Community Safety

Using License Plate Reader Cameras to Combat Crime in Improvement Districts

December 15, 2022

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Community Safety

Using License Plate Reader Cameras to Combat Crime in Improvement Districts

As crime becomes an increasing concern for many cities, it’s essential to have the most effective safety measures in place to ensure a safe environment for businesses, residents, and visitors. That means turning to new tactics and the best technologies. That’s where Flock Safety license plate reader cameras can assist law enforcement with taking a proactive approach to safety, resulting in a significant year-over-year decrease in crime.

Current Crime Trends & Why Vehicle Data Matters

apartment security

Statistics tell a daunting story of rising crime. From 2021 to 2022, there has been a 26.5% increase in organized retail crime and a 12.3% increase in motor vehicle theft in all four regions of the U.S. 

There are several reasons why crime goes unsolved, and clearance rates are decreasing. While crime trends upward, budgets and human resources are trending downward. Departments are struggling to recruit, and retirements are on the rise. This is compounded by a backlog of cases from the pandemic. Cases stack up faster than departments can close them. Add to that a lack of actionable evidence for investigative leads, and you end up with alarming numbers of unsolved crimes. 

Understanding how to confront rising crime comes down to identifying a common denominator across different criminal incidents. Since bad actors need a way to go to and from places where they conduct criminal activity, it’s not surprising that vehicles are that common denominator. Vehicles are used in 70% of crimes, and a single stolen vehicle can provide the means for ongoing criminal activities. 

For instance, in one case from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, a car was stolen on a Monday night. The next day there were thirty break-ins, and the stolen vehicle was identified by license plate reader cameras in the majority of those crimes. One criminal incident snowballed into several others, and that number only grows with time. 

Benefits of License Plate Reader Cameras

The prevalence of vehicles in criminal activity makes license plate reader cameras a key technology for reducing crime. LPR cameras offer definitive, accurate, and objective evidence that enables law enforcement to pursue investigative leads with actionable data. LPR cameras capture distinct features of a vehicle that aren’t easy to alter, unlike clothing or appearance.  

Flock cameras also alleviate manpower issues since they operate 24/7. As Joe Allen, Executive Director of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID), puts it: “The police can’t be everywhere, but the Flock cameras can be everywhere.” 

Vehicle data can be automatically entered into a Hot List that provides real-time alerts to officers when a camera captures a vehicle of interest. Flock cameras also allow officers to search databases for suspect vehicles, giving them immediate leads when they identify a license plate number. When used in conjunction with security cameras, Flock Safety LPR cameras offer the benefit of visuals paired with objective identification. 

To optimize these benefits, license plate reader cameras should be installed in high-traffic areas, such as entrances or intersections. LPR cameras also enhance the operations of Real-Time Crime Centers in recovering stolen vehicles, locating missing individuals, and solving violent crimes. 

Tips for Building Success through Public + Private Partnerships

license plate reader camera

When paired with the data from Flock license plate reader cameras, partnerships between local businesses and law enforcement increase the likelihood of efficiently and effectively solving crime.

LPR cameras can encourage collaborations where none were before, creating a unique opportunity to combat crime. According to David Ballard, Solutions Consultant at Flock Safety and former Lieutenant of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, “Law enforcement is in a perfect storm against crime right now. Technology and private partnerships are the way forward. We’ve proven that. These private partnerships with HOAs and corporate entities and the retail community, they’re helping that divide we’ve seen in recent years between the community and the police.” When technology helps to dissolve that split, everyone benefits from increased safety.

There are several ways to enhance the success of Flock Safety technology through partnerships. For instance, in Georgia’s Gwinnett Place CID, a centralized database supports a close working relationship between the CID and law enforcement. The CID and law enforcement also hold weekly meetings and check-ins to review crime trends. They broadcast their joint success to local residents and stakeholders, which is especially important when cities are looking to redevelop areas and attract new businesses. 

Both the CID and law enforcement see license plate reader cameras as a force multiplier to enhance existing technology and assist with personnel limitations. There are simply not enough officers to shoulder all the work, so Flock Safety fills in a critical gap. 

Success Stories with Flock Safety Licence Plate Reader Cameras

Two success stories from Gwinnett County highlight how Flock Safety LPR cameras aid in solving crime. 

Serial Retail Theft

In the first success story, a security guard from a major grocery store chain reached out to the Gwinnett police department for help. A suspect was stealing thousands of dollars across multiple stores. The grocery store provided the police with a picture of the individual and the color, make, and model of the vehicle used by the suspect. 

Gwinnett PD searched Flock cameras for matches. They found the vehicle of interest, but when police ran the plate number, they discovered that it was registered to a different vehicle. Upon further review of Flock data, law enforcement discovered the plate had also been on another vehicle used by the suspect. The suspect was moving the same plate across different vehicles.

Using the data gained from the Flock cameras, police discovered that the suspect had been renting cars, placing the license plate on those cars to perform thefts, and then returning the rented car for a new one. The suspect was apprehended, and future thefts were prevented. 

Gwinnett Place CID 

The Gwinnett Place CID was established to support business development and the economic growth of the community. Part of that mission involves creating a safe and inviting community to attract new growth and sustain businesses.

Unfortunately, a dead mall in the center of the district has created a perception challenge. Since crime is a big part of that perception, Gwinnett Place CID has been proactive in improving the area. According to Allen, “We’ve really focused on quality of life initiatives since day one. And the installation of Flock Safety cameras has been a key element in our quality of life push.”

The CID installed fifty cameras in 2020 and thirteen more in 2021. As a result, all vehicles that travel through the 2,000 acres that make up Gwinnett Place CID are captured by an LPR camera. In 2022, twenty more cameras were installed in area hotels, putting the camera count at 83. 

This has led to impressive results, including a 19% decrease in robberies, a 37% decrease in commercial burglary, a 38% decrease in aggravated battery, and a 42% decrease in homicides. More stolen vehicles have been recovered solely as a result of evidence gathered by Flock license plate reader cameras. 

As more Georgia districts adopt Flock cameras, partnerships expand across the area, ensuring further protection against crime. 

This trend is best captured by Central Precinct Commander Major Christopher Rafanelli of Gwinnett County:

“Having Flock Safety cameras at our disposal has been invaluable to the department, and the statistics prove it. Both Gwinnett Place CID and Sugarloaf CID have been extremely helpful in placing cameras throughout their districts so that we cannot only solve but also help to prevent crimes from taking place.”

Flock Safety Creates Safer Cities

Flock Safety cameras have been a game-changing technology for Gwinnett County and the surrounding area, and those benefits are available to all cities. With Flock Safety, improvement districts can proactively respond to rising crime using actionable, objective data that equips law enforcement, businesses, and communities with the means to create safer cities and a higher quality of life.

Flock Safety is a public safety operating system that helps communities and law enforcement in 2000+ cities work together to eliminate crime, protect privacy, and mitigate bias. We build devices that capture objective evidence and use machine learning to create and deliver unbiased investigative leads to law enforcement. Our proprietary devices and cloud-based software reduce crime by +70%. Flock Safety serves 2000 cities in 42+ states and is helping solve hundreds of crimes every day.

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