License Plate Reader helps deputies make arrest

August 6, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Thanks to a License Plate Reader (LPR), the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office was able to locate a stolen car and make an arrest at the same time Sunday. One of the county’s four LPRs was in operation on Blue Run Road when it hit on the license plate of a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt as it passed.

The deputy had dispatch check the database, and the car came back as having been stolen from Adams County. He turned on his visual and audible alerts as he gave chase, but the car did not stop. It continued up and down several roads until it ran off the right side of the road, down a hill, across an embankment into a field. It was then that two subjects ran from the car into the woods.

Minutes later an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper brought a subject back to the deputy. Meanwhile, the deputy had located a cell phone in the stolen vehicle, and he said the subject matched the pictures on the phone. Arrested was David Errington, 44, of 1455 Stoney Run Rd., Peebles, Ohio, who was charged with receiving stolen property.

“It reads the front and rear tags on the cars depending on which side of the highway it’s on,” Scioto County Sheriff’s Captain David Hall said. “If it’s on a two lane road, we’re going to hit it from the rear. It’s going to hit a vehicle stationary on the side of the road and the vehicles that we’re passing. It searches a database, and if it gets a hit on anyone, a missing vehicle, a missing person, missing children, a dangerous person, it hits on all of those.”

Hall said the signal goes to the laptop computer in the cruiser and sends out an audible alarm similar to a siren.

“Sometimes it works so fast you don’t even see the car,” Deputy Paula Gibson said. “And sometimes it shoots in between cars.”

“It could be a vehicle pulling a trailer, and it still hits the tag,” Hall said.

Hall said the equipment will read 1,200 to 1,300 tags in an eight-hour shift.

“It is unbelievable how many man hours you will save looking for stolen cars, wanted people, missing people, dangerous people,” Hall said.

In addition to the LPRs in the Sheriff’s Department, which are tied into the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Portsmouth Police Department has four units as well.

“It’s an incredible asset to law enforcement and the public,” Hall said.

Hall said the system can also tell them if a suspect was at the scene of a crime when it occurred if it is within 30 days of the commission of that crime.

“They’re paid for by a Homeland Security grant, that we, in Region VII are a part of,” Hall said.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.