ST. ANN, Mo. – New license plate reader technology called Flock Safety automated license plate readers is helping communities protect themselves against criminals. They’re gaining popularity across the St. Louis region for helping to solve crimes and even deter them from happening in the first place.

The cameras and license plate readers are designed to capture criminals via the cars they’re in, allowing law enforcement to cut down on investigations by finding suspects in real time with video and alerts.

“That live time readout that we get by our dispatcher or that alert on our computer gives the officers opportunity to find that vehicle,” said Cpl. Josh Wineinger for the Arnold Police Department. “So we can contain them to a neighborhood, it deters crime dramatically.”

In under two months, it’s led investigators in Arnold to solve 13 felony cases ranging from car theft to burglary faster and more efficiently, including one recently at Lowe’s after officers put the license plate into the system.

“We apprehend them before they can steal again, match them up with the surveillance footage,” Wineinger said. “It’s the same people, so not only prevented another crime, it solved the other crime of shoplifting.”

Back in December, FOX 2 reported on a robbery that St. Ann police solved in part thanks to the flock system.

“We have blanketed the entire city to where we capture every vehicle that comes into the city and leaves the city,” said Sgt. Monica Rueles for the St. Ann Police Department. “We’ve at least doubled, if not tripled, the amount of cases that we closed.”

The flock system can be found in highly trafficked areas where crime is up. However, they’re not just being bought up by police departments, but by neighborhoods and HOAs that want to feel safer.

“It makes them slow down, it does, and it makes people aware that if they come into St. Ann that they might get caught,” said Alderwoman Rebekah Jimenez of St. Ann (Ward 3).

They’re being used throughout St. Louis, St. Charles, Madison, Monroe, and several other counties, with many cities placing orders to have more on the way.

You can find more information on Flock’s website.