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.

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“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.

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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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