Neighborhoods Use License Plate Readers to Catch Criminals

Article and Video Courtesy of Spectrum News

By Tim Spears

Published January 7, 2020



Nearly one third of Americans have had packages stolen from their door, according to Xfinity Home Security.

Now, communities across the country are adding neighborhood-wide surveillance systems.

Front door cameras like Ring Doorbells are already popular for individual homes to catch thieves who walk up to a home to steal something. The Wellington Woods neighborhood in Matthews has installed a license plate-reading camera to catch thieves who drive through.

“It’s a great system because it records every single solitary tag going in and out of the neighborhood day or night,” Wellington Woods HOA President Charlie Clayton said.

The Flock Safety automated license plate reader uses artificial intelligence to sort cars by license plate, vehicle type, and vehicle color, which residents can look up at home.

The ACLU has asked for restrictions on license plate readers, with concerns about privacy and abuse. The ACLU is actively advocating for plate readers to be used only by law enforcement and to require anyone using readers to report annually on how it's used.

Some of the privacy issues are whether neighbors could be tracking each other, or family members.

As for the need for a crime-fighting tool, Xfinity Home Security also reports more than half of Americans know someone who’s had a package stolen from their doors.