Watch CBS News

License plate readers to be installed in South Baltimore to help curb crime

License plate readers to be installed in South Baltimore to help curb crime
License plate readers to be installed in South Baltimore to help curb crime 02:50

BALTIMORE -- Carjackings are plaguing the city at an alarming rate, so the South Baltimore Peninsula is getting ready to crack down on crime.

The peninsula is trying a different tactic to crack down on crime.

Several neighborhood associations partnered with local and state leaders to install license plate readers, which neighbors in the community think could keep them safe.

Neighborhood associations on the peninsula, which include the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA) and the Riverside Neighborhood Association (RNA), secured a grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development earlier this year to pay for them.

"In all of our efforts, no one presented us with a sensible and sustainable solution," Brad O'Brien, FHNA public safety chair, said.

The grant is covering the cost of five cameras, three of which are already up and running. The three that are up are at the intersections of Hanover and Hamburg streets, Light and Cross streets, and Key Highway and Lawrence Street.

Two more will be placed in spots where people often enter and leave the peninsula.

Deputy Police Commissioner Monique Brown said license plate readers have helped identify violent criminals driving around, particularly those involved with carjackings.

She, along with Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates, said the evidence from the readers help build strong cases against criminals.

"[License plate readers] allow us to have the probable cause to have these stops, to get the guns out of vehicles, to make sure that in this moment in time a vehicle is potentially stolen," Bates said. "This technology allows the police to do their job."

The cost for these five cameras totaled nearly $250,000. The hope is more neighborhood associations on the peninsula get involved to possibly get more funding next year.

"Although we've been able to cover some key intersections of the peninsula, we think we can do all of the peninsula if others join the effort," O'Brien said.

Brown said license plate readers are monitored in real-time, adding the police department is working to secure more grants to get more installed throughout the city.

Other neighborhood associations interested in getting readers can contact groups on the peninsula, or even their state lawmakers to get the ball rolling.

For months, we've reported about the alarming rate of carjacking that happen around Baltimore City, but police told WJZ that as of November 28, carjackings were down 24 percent year-over-year from 592 in 2022 to 452 so far in 2023.

License plate readers will be installed from Hanover Street to Locust Point, including the Riverside community in-between.

Jeff Dewberry is a board member of the Riverside Neighborhood Association.

He tells us in the South Baltimore Peninsula area they have a lot of transient crimes where people will come to the area, commit a crime, and then leave.

According to an interactive map our media partner the Baltimore Banner created, Riverside experienced about 294 auto thefts per 10,000 residents in the past three years.

The hope is to have the reader capture vehicle information that could help police form more leads, to tackle cases of car theft and carjackings.

"This is a big win in the community and it has been many years in the making," Dewberry said. "And if it wasn't for community associations throughout South Baltimore coming together to create a comprehensive plan this wouldn't be possible."

This effort is being fueled by a grant from the state's Housing and Community Department.  

"We love Baltimore and we want to make sure that Baltimore succeeds and have visitors enjoy Baltimore the way we enjoy it as residents."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.