Pawleys Island, SC (WMBF) – They are small and easy to miss, but the cameras at both causeways to enter Pawleys Island are helping police fight crime like never before.
The cameras scan the tags of any cars that drive by and check to see who they belong to. If the car belongs to a wanted criminal or a person with a traffic violation, it will alert police right away.
So far this year, the cameras have helped Pawleys Island Police arrest several criminals, including wanted sex offender Lester Beckett.
"We had the image of his car within a half hour; we determined he was a registered sex offender in Horry county right away," said Michael Fanning, Chief of Police in Pawleys Island. "Then Horry county was able to find him and arrest him for us," The cameras also helped officers track down a person who officers believed to be involved in a hit and run with no more that a vehicle description and time of day. "I was able to go into the database and look for the car, and we got a picture of the car with the mirror hanging off and we spoke with the person who was driving and he fessed up," Fanning said.
He believes that the cameras give the department a better chance to find criminals that could try to leave the island.
"The victims who normally wouldn't find any closure or satisfaction, now they realize and see the end result in a fairly quick manor," Fanning said.
Some residents, like Rebecca McGill are fine with the cameras, but are hoping officers don't overstep their bounds.
"Cameras are everywhere and we are losing our privacy. But I'll give up some privacy for protection," McGill said.
Pawleys Island Police have also helped in the arrest of one other sex offender because of the cameras, along with recovering a stolen kayak. They believe the $35,000 investment to get them was money well spent.