O'FALLON, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- As a car drives through an O'Fallon neighborhood, a camera snaps a photo. In a flash, all the information on the vehicle is captured.

It's a new measure the community is putting in place to help combat crime, hoping it will help police in their investigations.

“It will take a picture of the back of the car and the license plate, and it will keep that record for 30 days,” explained Bill Halley, the president of the homeowner’s association in Winghaven, the largest subdivision in O’Fallon.

The HOA is paying for the Flock security cameras now stationed at several entrances.

“We’re going to know everyone that comes in and out of here because of these cameras,” said Hayley.

It's all in an effort to help combat the growing problem of car thefts around the St. Charles County area and the region as a whole.

“We’ve seen an uptick, the number of stolen cars in January and February of 2019 to 2020 have tripled,” explained Officer Tony Michalka of O’Fallon Police Department.

In the first two months of last year there were 4 cars stolen, in the same time frame this year there were 12.

Ten of them had their keys inside.

“It makes it kind of an eerie feeling knowing people are potentially walking through the subdivision at night opening your car door, going through your personal belongings while you’re sleeping,” said Madeline Sindel, a resident of Avondale, another large O’Fallon subdivision.

Sindel as well as Matt Vogler helped launch a neighbhorhood watch for their subdivision and stay in close contact with police.

“When we see suspicious vehicles well call them,” said Vogler.

They think cameras like the ones installed in Winghaven could be a good fit for their neighborhood.

The cameras capture very clear images of the car and the license plate, but one issue is often times criminals are coming in stolen cars.

“The cameras that Winghaven installed are a great tool in the tool box but it’s not the panacea to end all crime,” said Michalka.

At $2,000 a year, the Winghaven subdivision says they are a great way to make people feel safer.

“We sort of feel like these cameras are the next best thing to a gated community,” said Halley.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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