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How a Flock-Protected Neighborhood Helped Police Catch a Serial Mail Thief

An Atlanta police department partnered with private residents to help catch a thief that had been rampaging through several states.

Story from WSB.

Technology helped track a prolific thief in Sandy Springs.

Police believe Matthew Robert Brown, 34, may have unknown numbers of identity theft victims nationwide.

On July 9, a porch pirate was caught tiptoeing away with someone's package from a neighborhood near Peachtree Dunwoody Road. Another resident's package was stolen from a house a little over a mile away. The thief could be seen getting into a light-colored SUV and driving away. 

The neighborhood had installed a Flock Safety license plate reader camera, which captured the suspect’s vehicle and tag number. 

Sandy Springs Police Sgt. Sam Worsham says police paired that information to have the Flock system send officers an alert if that license plate was captured on another camera.

Days later, it was.

Officers responded to an alert from a city Flock camera that the SUV was driving near Roswell Road and pulled Brown over on July 15. Brown gave police a phony ID, says Worsham. Officers figured out who he was, though, and found that he had outstanding warrants in Atlanta and in Fulton County for identify theft, fraud, and burglary. 

"We did find in the vehicle eight credit cards with different names, 17 piece of mail with different names, drugs in the car," says Worsham. "We currently have him booked in Fulton County Jail on 34 warrants."

They had no way of immediately knowing that Brown was the person they'd been hunting in connection with a big ID theft case out of Michigan back in April.

Worsham says investigators would likely have caught up with Brown anyway, but that the camera technology gave them a big break--not only giving them a look at the suspect but at his vehicle--and helped it happen sooner.

"Using the camera system and the license plate readers, it's kind of a force multiplier. It's sort of like electronic surveillance," says Worsham, who adds that criminals may be less likely to strike if they suspect their actions may be captured on video in many different places.

"It's very helpful to us. It benefits the neighborhoods. It's kind of a good all-around technology. It may actually in the future begin to prevent crime because people know, 'I'm going to get caught.'" 

Read the full story on WSB.