License plate readers helping Hendersonville Police crack down on crime

Posted at 3:38 PM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 19:53:10-04

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Cameras along Hendersonville's streets are reading license plates to notify police of stolen vehicles and criminals on the roads.

Two LPR activations within 12 hours helped officers recover two stolen vehicles and arrest four people.

The first incident happened on Wednesday night around 11 p.m. the system alerted police of a stolen vehicle in the city. Officers stopped the driver, 24-year-old Christopher Whitehead, and his passenger 28-year-old Heather May.

They were arrested on charges of possession of stolen property over $2,500, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. May was also charged with possession of schedule IV drugs (Xanax).

The second was an alert of another stolen vehicle that came in around 11 o'clock Thursday morning. Officers found it in the Williamsburg Apartment complex and arrested 25-year-old Antonio Butler and 26-year-old Titus Hardin.

Officers learned that the men were about to sell the stolen vehicle. They were charged with Possession of Stolen Property. Hardin was also charged with Driving on a Revoked License and outstanding warrants out of Wilson County.

Police credit the capture of the suspects to its license plate reader system.

The department has had readers for about six years, but improving technology and better cameras have increased the number and types of crimes that are being solved.

"Vehicles come in daily that will come back registered as stolen," said Det. Sgt. Chris Gagnon. "A lot of cases, if we can have officers over there in the area, they have been trained on take-down maneuvers and ways to keep them from getting out of the parking lots and keep them from getting out of the city before we can take them into custody."

The camera system sends a notification to HPD when it detects a stolen vehicle, or a vehicle with known connections to a crime. Police can then respond to the area and try to find the suspects.

It's helpful for police because Gagnon says a lot of the stolen vehicles are used in other crimes.

"It's not just limited to drug transactions and stuff like that, they're being utilized in robberies, they're being utilized in vehicle burglaries, they're being utilized to steal other cars," he said.

Gagnon said the cameras are not used as traffic light cameras or to hand out any citation. It's only used to identify criminals entering or driving through the city.