Local police make arrests scanning license plates

Local police make arrests scanning license plates

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Police are always finding new ways to keep you safe on the road. Now, a new technology is allowing the Myrtle Beach Police Department to do an even better job.

The department is using license plate reading cameras to make sure no drivers are on the road that shouldn't be. The police department says in this day and age, officers are in a position where this kind of technology is necessary to keep up.

Things like license plate reading cameras allow officers to not only keep the roads safe, but better use their resources. The license plate reading cameras can either be mounted on patrol cars or on fixed structures like bridges and lightposts.

Myrtle Beach Police's traffic unit mostly uses car mounted scanners. The scanners will read the plates of cars driving both at and away from the patrol car and then run them through a database.

Within seconds, the scanner will alert an officer if any cars on the road belong to someone wanted, someone with suspended tags, a person tied to an amber alert, or much more.

The officer will then have to confirm if the tag read by the scanner actually belongs to that vehicle.

Just a few days ago, police arrested a woman by using these cameras. Her tags set off the scanner because the license plates were flagged as stolen. Officers pulled the woman over and then found drugs inside the car as well.

Corporal Shannon Toole with the Myrtle Beach Police Department Traffic Division says incidents like this are not uncommon. The scanners read more than 300,000 tags a year, so they routinely identify stolen vehicles. They can also help investigations without monitoring you.

"There is a database that we're actually able to go back and do some research and actually put a vehicle at a certain place at a certain time," Corporal Toole explained. "But in no way will it track you from here to Market Common to 707, to Socastee High School."

Several other departments around the state also use these cameras, one being the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. In a report from last year, the department showed each camera costs roughly $20,000.

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