MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A west metro neighborhood association is taking a new approach to preventing car and home break-ins, and so far it appears it’s working.

Heritage Park is a 37-home development nestled in Plymouth. It’s where Jim Russell and his wife are raising their boys.

“It’s safe and secure,” Russell said. “The lake’s right there. There’s plenty of parks, and it’s great for the kids.”

But things got a little less secure over the summer. One neighbor walked into his home to find a stranger standing in the kitchen and then there was a string of mail thefts.

“The police report we filed asked for a license plate number and we weren’t able to get that,” Russell said.

Since he heads up the homeowner’s association, Russell started doing some research and found Flock Safety.

It’s a company started by an electrical engineer in Georgia who had 40 car break-ins in his own neighborhood and wanted to help.

“What we found is a license plate is the most actionable evidence for a detective to clear a case,” said Garrett Langley, the CEO of Flock Safety.

So he started a company that supplies neighborhood entrances with cameras that scan and record tag numbers and save the data. The system also alerts police if a stolen vehicle enters a neighborhood.

“We want to make a product that acts like a detective,” Langley said. “So what would she notice, she’d notice the color the make model, damage…what was license plates, was it a temporary tag.”

One Atlanta suburb whose been using the system, along with community programs, has seen a 60% drop in crime, specifically in car thefts.

Russell and his neighbors signed up for Flock Safety in the fall, and the residents are splitting the yearly $2,000 cost, which boils down to about $54 per household per year.

(This article was first published on Nov. 13, 2020)

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