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License plate readers helping one Miami-Dade town catch crooks

Cameras capture license plates and catch crooks in this Miami-Dade town
Cameras capture license plates and catch crooks in this Miami-Dade town

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. – Stolen cars out of Broward County have been found in one Miami-Dade town — along with guns and drugs — and police are crediting some new technology for the busts.

Authorities in Miami Lakes say they’re finding success catching crooks using license plate readers.

The town has even partnered with HOAs to use their camera system, which is rare.

Tucked away, off the roadways, these cameras catch every single license plate that passes by.

“This takes a picture and it’s run through a database. If there’s a warrant out for your arrest — stolen vehicle, stolen tag ...” says Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, who points out that a fleet of cameras is set up now.

They say the license plate readers are not tracking small-time violators, but stolen cars and wanted criminals.

“We’re not going for folks that have issues with insurance or whatnot," Cid said. “This is for people that have major warrants out for their arrest.”

“Many subjects steal cars and then drive to certain areas in order to commit additional crimes,” added Miami Lakes police Maj. Javier Ruiz.

The town is investing in this camera system to tackle that very problem, and it seems to be working, with dozens of arrests already made.

The cameras recently picked up two cars stolen out of Plantation and Hollywood. Officers swarmed the area and found a teen in one of the cars who also had a gun.

In another recent incident, a suspect was captured with pills and also a handgun in a car reportedly stolen out of Pembroke Pines.

“We’ve seen a huge reduction in terms of crime in the town of Miami Lakes,” Ruiz said. “This is one of the lowest crime rates we’ve ever had.”

Miami Lakes is hoping to expand the program while keeping in mind privacy.

“State law mandates that those records are held for a 30-days period," Cid said. "If there’s no issue, they get wiped out.”

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.