Royal Oaks installs cameras to trace tags

Community By David Snelling, Reporter Thursday, September 17, 2020

      License Plate Recognition Cameras are recording in the Royal Oaks community in Miami Lakes.

   Since 2018, police have used four of the devices in town to track suspects, and Royal Oaks residents hope the cameras will aid police investigations in their neighborhood.

     Royal Oaks has 666 homes and is between Northwest 170th Street and Northwest 162nd Street, on either side of Northwest 82nd Avenue.

      Police said from January through August this year in Royal Oaks there were 11 car burglaries; three thefts; a stolen tag, a stolen vehicle and two home burglaries.

     The LPR devices went online Sept. 3. They scan license plates and compare them to a database of wanted persons or stolen cars.

     The software then alerts officers that a suspicious person may be in the neighborhood.

     Around town, the devices led to at least 10 arrests, officials said in March.

     Manufacturer Vigilant Solutions manages the database for the system in Royal Oaks, Miami Lakes Town Manager Edward Pidermann said.

     Miami-Dade Police Maj. Javier Ruiz commands officers in town.

     “The officer will conduct an additional check on the tag to ensure that the alert on the tag is correct and will respond to the area to search for the vehicle,” Ruiz said. 

    Ruiz said businesses and communities outside of the county credit the devices with helping police make arrests.

    “They are saying their current surveillance cameras with LPR technology make it easier for police officers to be notified when a stolen vehicle or wanted person drives into an area,” he said.

    Last year, the Royal Oaks Homeowners Association and the community’s Neighborhood Service District Committee, or NSD, voted for the LPRs.

     The NSD was formerly called the special taxing district.

     The town council oversees the Neighborhood Service District Committee and approved the Vigilant Solutions contract. 

     Pidermann said money from the service district budget, which is funded by Royal Oaks homeowners, paid $33,800 to buy and install the cameras and $26,000 for an annual subscription to the database and maintenance.

     He said the town is not paying any expenses related to the system.

     Resident Marcos Gutierrez, who is also an NSD committee member, said residents will not be charged extra in their neighborhood service district taxes for the LPRs, as there was enough money in its current budget and reserves for the technology.

     For years, Royal Oaks relied on gates and security guards who jotted down license plate numbers.

     Royal Oaks resident Juan C. Fernandez said he lobbied for the cameras last year when he was vice president of the homeowners’ association. He said his car was burgled twice, and he was sold on how the cameras could help prevent future thefts.

     “I think it’s a great thing for our community to add another level of security,” he said.

     Resident Chris Creevay said some homeowners complained that storage of their personal data and records of their comings and goings may invade their privacy.

     “They shouldn’t be worried about that,” Creevay said. “Criminals should be more worried.”

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