License plate-reading cameras utilized to prevent neighborhood thefts

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:42 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JEFFERSON COUNTY (KMOV) -- On Monday, a porch pirate was recorded on a home security system stealing a package from a front porch in the Winding Bluffs Subdivision south of Fenton. Les Howard said the theft is frustrating.

“You order something, you pay money for it, and you get home, and it’s supposed to be there, and it’s not,” he said.

A camera at the entrance to the subdivision also snapped a photo of the suspect’s license plate. The photo was turned over to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to help track down the thief.

Frustrated with the nagging periodic problem of car break-ins, the subdivision installed two motion-activated cameras last March. The cameras are made by a company called Flock Safety. Holly Beilin is a spokesperson for the company.

“Software within the camera then compares that license plate to different state and national crime databases,” she said.

Beilin said the cameras will automatically alert police if they detect a license plate that’s been reported stolen, a plate associated with a wanted offender or an Amber Alert.

Flock cameras have been used by police for several years but are now being installed by businesses, hospitals and homeowner associations.

The poles that the cameras are mounted on often have a bright sign warning that vehicles are being recorded. The Winding Bluffs subdivision believes the cameras might be scaring away thieves. There hasn’t been a car break-in since they were installed.

“If they don’t come in, then I think that’s money well spent,” said Howard.

The City of Eureka has installed nine cameras. Lt. Michael Werges said the cameras have been an effective tool for solving crimes.

“They’re out there all the time, and we’ve had great success with them here in Eureka,” he said.

Werges said besides getting an alert about stolen vehicles, the images can be searched for specific types of vehicles. And the cameras can be programmed to alert police if it detects a certain type of vehicle.

News 4 checked with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Louis County Police Department. While both said they don’t lease any Flock cameras, they can access a network of 250 cameras.

The cost of leasing a camera runs around $2,500 a year.