New license plate readers in Carbondale help police track down stolen vehicles, felony suspects

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KBSI) – If you live in Carbondale or have driven through the city recently, you may have noticed some fancy new cameras.

Don’t worry, they’re not used to catch you speeding or running a red light, although you’re not encouraged to do so. They are automated license plate readers that police can use to track down stolen vehicles or vehicles that have been used in a felonious crime.

Police officers can’t be everywhere at once, but Carbondale Police Department Deputy Chief Anthony Williams said these cameras act like extra sets of eyes at the busiest intersections.  

“It’s as if you have an officer that’s standing out there all the time, watching every intersection and running every plate, which is something that police officers have done, but we don’t have time to do that every single minute of the day and every single hour,” he said.

The cameras help the police department prevent and investigate crime by capturing images of license plates and comparing them to what is called a “hot list”, and if a plate matches one on the list, a police officer will respond accordingly. 

“It gives us a fighting chance of sometimes catching folks that are motivated to do crime and get away with it,” he said.

The cameras don’t do the police officer’s or investigator’s work for them, but they do improve efficiency.  

“The hope is that these cameras will keep crime from happening, that they’ll be a deterrent, but when they’re not, they’re also there to help us deliver a good case to a jury or a judge to show that you can’t really hide from the cameras,” Williams said.

Williams said the goal of these cameras is not to catch people committing minor infractions, but rather to protect the people of Carbondale from those who can cause them the most harm. 

“This is another tool that we have to keep them better protected, and I hope that it also sends a message to the people that would come to Carbondale to do criminal activities, we are going to do whatever it takes to keep our city safe,” he said.

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