Virtual fence to corral crimes of opportunity
The City of Castle Pines has approved the installation of two “crime fighting” security cameras at the major gateways into the city. The technology captures vehicle license plate numbers and checks if the vehicle has been reported stolen or if the registered owner has any outstanding warrants.
By Daniel Williams; courtesy photo
With the help of technology and two new strategically-placed cameras, those attempting to commit crimes in the City of Castle Pines may find themselves behind bars before even committing a crime within the city limits.
Crimes of opportunity in local neighborhoods — those burglaries stemming from open garage doors, unlocked cars or valuables left in clear view within locked cars — are on the rise throughout Douglas County and have spiked in Castle Pines, according to the latest statistics from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO).
“We’ve had a 300 percent increase in trespasses to cars [in Castle Pines] so far this year,” said Captain Jim Jensen of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at a recent Castle Pines City Council meeting.
In the first quarter of 2017, Castle Pines experienced three “car trespasses,” according to Jensen, but that number jumped to 12 break-ins so far this year.
“We really saw a significant spike in activity toward the end of 2017,” Jensen said, but the biggest problems, so far, have been occurring in other areas of Douglas County. “To the north of us [law enforcement] is getting in car chases with car thieves almost every night now.”
Jensen said DCSO has taken an aggressive stand to combat and interrupt crimes before they take place. Unfortunately, he added, there are more criminals than officers. “Sometimes it becomes the luck of the draw to catch them.”
A Virtual Solution
With the numbers stacked against them, DCSO has enlisted the help of technology to fight crime. The DCSO partnered with Vigilant Solutions, a global image recognition and analytics company, to serve as a virtual crime checkpoint into the city with its license plate recognition technology.
According to a Vigilant Solutions company statement, its “license plate readers use a camera system that takes pictures of license plates” and its software then checks that information against more than 1,000 agencies nationwide to detect if the vehicle has been reported as stolen or if the registered owner has any outstanding warrants.
Jensen said two cameras will be going up at the gateways to Castle Pines and will involve two of the main thoroughfares “so we can build a virtual fence around the city. This will give our law enforcement personnel real-time access and alert us to [vehicles] that are stolen or have an owner with outstanding warrants.”
Jensen said, “I believe we’ll be able to make a real impact on the auto trespasses and the garage burglaries in the City of Castle Pines because geographically it’s a pretty small area and we always have a law enforcement officer here, so we should be able to pick up some bad guys.”
And yes, if you have too many unpaid parking tickets that have led to an outstanding warrant, you may discover the effectiveness of the virtual crime fence around the city when entering.
According to Castle Pines City Manager Michael Penny, the cameras cost around $35,000 each and will be paid for by the city with funds already allocated to the law enforcement budget. The cameras are due to be installed within the next few months.