License plate cameras give police new way to crack down on crime

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - The Pawleys Island Police Department has a new way to crack down on crime. Officers are doing that by using four cameras placed on the only two ways in and out of the island near the causeways.

The department bought the cameras for $30,000. They scan the license plates on every car that passes by on the causeway. Those cameras then feed that information through a national and state database, and if something is wrong, the department is alerted.

"If the car is stolen, there's an amber alert, sex offender, or terrorist alert and if the vehicle is wanted by law enforcement the cameras will notify us," said Pawleys Island Police Chief Michael Fanning.

Fanning has been pushing for this technology for years. He said the island needs them to crack down on burglaries in the winter months when many homeowners are not around.

"If we can identify the time when the burglaries occur then we can go back and check the vehicles and license tags to identify the vehicle," said Fanning.

Long time island resident Beverly Moore said while she has never had to deal with much crime in her neighborhood in her 20 plus years at her home, things have changed recently.

"We've had some break-ins around here and sometimes my husband is out of town," added Moore. "It's a little disconcerting to think that there are people who would do this."

While the cameras can read license plate numbers, they cannot read which state issued the tag. But Fanning said that is where the public can help police narrow the search for a wanted vehicle.

"If you can visually see it is a South Carolina tag then we're not chasing every type of car so you can tell if it's an out of state tag or not," added Fanning.

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