Coastal communities consider installing license plate recognition software

Police say system can help prevent and solve crime

OCEAN RIDGE, Fla. - Ocean Ridge Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi wants to keep his town safe.

"A lot of people feel, once they cross the bridge over the Intracoastal, or come up and down A1A, they're in a sanctuary of their own," he said. "It's a lot safer over here and a lot quieter."

He's spearheading a push to install cameras up and down State Road A1A on the barrier islands from Ocean Ridge to Highland Beach.

The automated license plate recognition system reads license plates and compares the digits to databases of wanted criminals or stolen cars; alerting dispatchers of any matches.

Manalapan already uses the system.

"We're just trying to use it as an investigative tool and/or to thwart something from happening in the first place," Chief Yannuzzi said.

Single mother Kristine de Haseth supports the plan. She said if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about.

"It's only hitting up against databases for criminals or criminal activity," she told us. "It's not telling you if you're kid's coming home late."

She sees it as another item to put on the crime-fighting tool belt, but other people say recording everyone's license plate is just another overreach of Big Brother.

Next, Yannuzzi and a committee of community members and law enforcement leaders will ask their respective municipal governments to invest in the system. He says it costs about $20,000 to install a set up with two cameras.

"Unfortunately, you have criminals who come over and try to help themselves to the items others have worked hard to obtain," he said. 

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