ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – License plate reader cameras are tied to many recent remarkable breakthroughs in cases.

The March 3 Schnucks parking lot shooting in St. Charles County is one of many examples of how the cameras led police to suspects across state lines. In that case, investigators only had part of a license plate, but that was enough.

“It’s all about networking and solving crimes, throughout the area,” Officer Shawn Birdsong, St. Charles County Police Department, said.

Birdsong said that a license plate reader camera, “…makes the solvability of the crime that much greater.”

From violent crimes to abductions, and even keeping sex offenders from where they should not be, Birdsong said, “We get alerts when prohibitive people are coming in our parks, so like I said we are very invested in our community and keeping it safe.”

Court records indicate a January 2023 stolen car ring in north St. Louis County was broken up when license plate reader cameras led police to Kansas City, where investigators found a group of juveniles connected to multiple car thefts.

An April 2023 Springfield, Missouri, murder in the middle of a road was reportedly solved with a license plate reader hit that led investigators to south St. Louis County. Police arrested two suspects at a Mehlville apartment complex.

We also found an April 27, 2023, bank robbery in Chesterfield Valley, solved with the help of license plate reader cameras that took investigators all the way to Florida. Police arrested a 22-year-old suspect in hiding.

“It’s a good thing that it can solve all these crimes and issues going on in the country really, not just the city,” resident Austin Caldwell said.

“With today’s technology, I’m thankful for it,” Madison Reyering said. “I feel safer.”

Missing people are also being located, such as a March 2022 case involving a 7-year-old child taken illegally by her mother from a Wentzville library. Police found them safe in Utah after getting a license plate reader hit 1,300 miles away.

Officer Birdsong said private businesses and now regular citizens are having the cameras installed.

“We had a ton of HOA members that we’ve sat in on meetings, that have inquired about them,” he said.

Most people we spoke to only saw the benefits.

“Our privacy? I mean, it’s invaded in a lot of places. You share your data on your phone,” Reyering said. “I mean, it’s a safety concern more than getting into your privacy.”