Northbrook installs plate readers on roads to fight crime


CHICAGO (SCS) — You may have noticed gadgets popping up on neighborhood streets.

They are not there to catch you for speeding. They are license plate readers. The latest high-tech tool to help catch criminals. CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reports from Northbrook to explain how they’ve recently come in handy.

There are hundreds of these cameras in the Chicago area. At least 99 of them on the Dan Ryan alone. State police put 300 on every freeway in Chicago.

Now the Northbrook Police Department is the latest city to use them to track criminals from town to suburbs.

“If I was a villain, I would avoid Northbrook.”

That’s because license plate reader technology has eyes on this town. Police Chief Chris Kennedy said it helped Northbrook police arrest Mindy Bravo, 26, of Chicago in a stolen car.

“Ultimately, she was charged with a bunch of crimes, including stealing a bunch of mail from the area,” Kennedy said.

Police said they were about to embark on a massive crime spree in town. They found stolen goods, credit cards, identification and drugs in the car. Chief Kennedy now wants more cameras here and in nearby suburbs on board.

“More is better. It covers a larger area,” Kennedy said.

The black boxes are mounted on poles and will take snapshots of each plate as drivers pass through intersections. The camera does not capture video and the information is stored for 30 days. And when it comes to Big Brother…

“It doesn’t give you a peek inside the vehicle. There have been concerns about profiling,” Kennedy said.

The technology only captures the license plate.

At the dispatch center, officers are responsible for verifying the accuracy of the plate. It will alert for a stolen car, warrant, or Amber Alert, then dispatch decides when officers should take action.

“It has to be pretty instantaneous because in a minute or two cars could be driving in and out of town,” Detective Commander Jamison Hanselman said.

In just a month and a half, Northbrook police have recovered four stolen cars and arrested 12 people. There are five plate readers installed throughout the city and 15 more will be installed by the end of the year.

“Ultimately our goal is to build a network around Northbrook,” Kennedy said.

The chief admits crime is low in his area, but said the “web” can keep it that way and help track criminals from Chicago to the suburbs.

These systems put us in tune with what’s going on around us,” Kennedy said.

The cost to the taxpayer? It’s about $50,000 over a two-year period. The system is also linked to cameras installed on private properties, such as Northbrook Court and the Rosemont Fashion Outlets.


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