License plate reader helping solve, prevent crime in Valdosta neighborhood
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A license plate reader is helping solve crimes not only in Valdosta, but across the country.
In the Arbor Run community, the Flock Safety camera system is protecting over 180 homes and their residents.
It’s a one way in, one way out community.
The automated license plate reader captures the plate information and full description of each car entering.
Across the country, it has helped reduce crime and solve cases, including kidnappings, murders, robberies and more.
In Valdosta, it recently helped the Valdosta Police Department solve a shooting.
John Swiderski has been living in the area for years and is part of the Arbor Run Homeowners Association.
Swiderski said since the system was installed, this is the only incident they’ve had in the last three years.
“We had an incident where a car with several people in it came into the subdivision. They were not residents and apparently, they got into some sort of argument. They may have known somebody here, but I don’t know about that. A gun was fired and one of the people was injured and, of course, police got into the investigation,” said Swiderski.
Swiderski said the investigation led to a car description but no license plate.
Police were given access to the system. A match was found and the case was solved.
Swiderksi said the neighborhood is a calm, quiet place to live, but there was once some worry. Before the camera system, the neighborhood had some home invasion-related crimes. The homeowners association decided to invest in a security system.
Flock Safety is self-contained, solar-powered and internet isn’t needed.
The association pays $2,000 a year for the service.
What about privacy?
For some, license plate readers may be an invasion of privacy and for others, it’s a positive sight and a crucial tool to help battle crime.
In Lowndes County, there are a few cities using it but they’re in undisclosed areas for security reasons.
Swiderski said not only does it help solve crimes but it also prevents them.
“It’s an important key to law enforcement. If they see a car that’s only been here once or twice, they focus in on that,” said Swiderski.
Swiderski said the system is “hands off” for them. The information is not reviewed and is just given to police when needed.
“There’s been some concerns. I’m aware of around the county about the intrusion of privacy and things like that. We have chosen with our camera system to restrict it to police authority only,” said Swiderski.
Images are only stored for 30 days.
Swiderski said if they’ve had this system in the past, other crimes in the area may have been solved.
One resident told WALB News 10 that he likes having the security camera there.
Flock Safety also helps in cases of Amber Alerts and has been crucial in recovering kidnapped victims.
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