Police departments and traffic enforcement crews have a new technological powerhouse to add to their arsenal: license plate capture cameras. Although they certainly hate that it's the case, officials know full well that stolen cars are rarely discovered and recovered. According to the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 20% of stolen vehicles are recovered. And in those rare instances that they are retrieved, it's not unusual for automobiles to be badly damaged, costing thousands to repair.
Number plate recognition and video surveillance analytics software, however, is helping to even the playing field, capturing license plate numbers quickly and, perhaps more importantly, clearly. In Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, for example, police units have been able to solve dozens of cases involving stolen vehicles, as reported by the Tennesseean. Installed on utility poles or overpasses, LPR cameras capture license plates for passing vehicles and trigger an alert for suspect vehicles. The Mt. Juliet Police Department then has the ability to pinpoint the vehicle's location and make an arrest.
But it isn't just police crews that are gaining an advantage with this state-of-the-art technology. Private companies are as well, including financial institutions.
While bank crime has dipped considerably over the years, it remains quite prevalent, despite the widespread use of security cameras. And when the crimes do occur, a vehicle of some kind is typically involved. Appropriate forensic analysis and response is critical to capturing evidence and resolving the situation with local authorities.
Vehicle identification is a key piece of the crime-solving puzzle. Unfortunately, an institution's video system may lack the clarity in image capture or depth of analytics required to decipher the make and model of a vehicle, never mind read its license plates.
Plate capture cameras address this issue by zeroing in on the plate particulars so a positive identification can be made after cross-referencing with a central database.
Do license plate cameras automatically alert law enforcement?
Notification protocol is largely dependent on how the video analytics software is set up. In Mt. Juliet, for example, the license plate camera and video analytics software was paid for by the local government, with 39 units installed around the city. Subsequently, the system is serving the authorities themselves. When a stolen car or truck is spotted, police officers are pinged through their in-car computer installed in their cruisers.
"Companies are urged to synchronize their surveillance systems so the proper authorities are informed."
While private companies are encouraged to synchronize their systems so the proper authorities are made aware of positive identifications, they can be customized so managers, security teams or virtually anyone else on staff is alerted in real time. Working in collaboration with the police has served as a boon in many instances. As reported by Quartz, after a bank robbery occurred in Louisiana a few years ago, an LP camera captured the license plate of a 2001 GMC Sierra, which was the car used in the heist. However, a cross reference discovered the suspect was involved in another bank robbery that occurred in Texas in 2012.
Can license plate camera units reading license plates at night?
Not surprisingly, thefts of all kinds frequently take place in the evening hours. In 2018, for example, roughly 200 bank robberies occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. nationwide, according to the most recent statistics available from the FBI. A lack of light isn't a problem for license plate cameras, overcoming this obstacle through infrared night vision technology.
Are license plate readers legal?
The increased usage of video analytics systems and automated license plate readers hasn't come without some controversy. Indeed, while several law enforcement crews deploy them – or soon will – several states have statutes governing how they're used and what can be collected. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over a dozen states have rules and regulations set up governing how LP cameras are to be used.
In Arkansas, for example, they cannot be used by individuals, private companies, partnerships, associations or state agencies. Limited usage is permitted in certain circumstances by law enforcement. In other states, there are rules as to how long license plate data can be stored before it must be destroyed.
Here is a full list of states that have restrictions on LP camera technology:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
The American Civil Liberties Union is issuing court challenges on the constitutionality of license plate cameras in some states, contending they're an invasion of privacy. Given this, you may want to check with state officials to see if there are any restrictions in place and what you may need to do to be in compliance.
BranchServ leads the industry with its video surveillance capabilities and can provide you with insights and options for both cameras and stellar video platforms, with comprehensive analytics that include license plate capture. Indeed, our customized electronic security and integrated video solutions can help you enhance your security capabilities with the right package that suits your needs and budget. Contact us today to see what we have available for optimal viewing at any hour day or night.