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Police to Expand License Plate Surveillance in Greenville, S.C.

As of Nov. 16, the Greenville Police Department had received 587 alerts from the license plate scanning system, resulting in 11 warrants, and found 52 stolen vehicles based on those alerts.

The skyline of downtown Greenville, S.C.
Downtown Greenville, S.C.
Shutterstock/Kevin Ruck
(TNS) — If you've felt like you were being watched driving down Main Street in Greenville, well, you were.

Since January, 11 license plate readers have been recording information about vehicles 24 hours a day.

It was a pilot project, one the city thinks was so effective it's considering getting 14 more cameras. The $22,000 experiment used cameras from Flock Safety of Atlanta and was funded by the federal asset forfeiture program, according to a city news release.

Josh Miller, a spokesman for Flock Safety, said the cameras snap a photo of a license plate and send the information to the cloud, which searches crime data to see if a vehicle or its plates are stolen. It can also help find wanted or missing people.

As of Nov. 16, the Greenville Police Department had received 587 alerts from the system.

Police served 11 warrants and found 52 stolen vehicles based on the alerts. They found 11 firearms, recorded 21 incidents of stolen property and 47 stolen plates. Drugs were found 49 times.

Miller said the cost to lease the cameras is between $2,000 and $2,500 per camera per year.

He said in Houston the cameras have helped recover more than $1 million in stolen vehicles.

The company began when Garrett Langley, an electrical engineer at Georgia Tech, saw a rash of break ins in his neighborhood. He went to the police and asked what they needed to help stem the crime spree.

He and a colleague, Matt Feury, designed the system in use today and founded the company in 2017. Now the company's products are in 38 states and 1,000 cities.

They were intended to help solve nonviolent crimes like property theft but have also been used to help solve a murder in Clayton County, Georgia, and a drive-by shooting in San Francisco.

The city will soon accept proposals from companies that sell this type of equipment, Leslie Fletcher, a city spokesperson, said.

©2020 The State, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.