The Cobb County Police Department in Georgia used Vigilant Solutions license plate reader (LPR) systems and data to identify two suspects in the homicide of a missing person.
Sgt. Larry "Ski" Szeniawski of the Cobb County Homicide Unit explains, "We had a missing person report submitted with the agency, and the person had been missing for three days prior to the family making the report. I put out a flyer on the individual, in hopes of locating him. The flyer included the victim’s vehicle description and license plate number. Det. David Thorp received the flyer and ran the license plate through the Vigilant Solutions LPR database to see if the license plate had been captured by any LPR devices contributing to the Vigilant’s national LPR data sharing initiative.
"Upon querying the plate, we did find a sighting of the vehicle outside of town after the person went missing. We went to the location, and the vehicle was no longer there, but this piece of evidence prompted us to retrieve video footage from the store’s security cameras for the time that we knew the vehicle was in the parking lot. A review of the video footage revealed two acquaintances of the missing person at the store with the missing person’s vehicle. This was a major breakthrough in the case that would not have been possible without the historical LPR data – the historical LPR detection told us exactly where to find the needle in a very large haystack,” Szeniawski says.
"We turned our attention to the two individuals that we knew were at the store with the missing person’s vehicle, and asked them when they had last seen the missing person, and what they were doing on the date in question, Szeniawski continues. "They both claimed to be at home, and at this point, we presented them with the evidence from the video surveillance which did not align with their story. One of the individuals then confessed that the two of them had murdered our missing person, and led us to discover the truck and the body in an abandoned apartment complex.
"Without the original lead from the LPR data, because of the location of the truck, it would likely have been a long time before the truck and body were discovered – at which point the likelihood of tracing this back to our two suspects would have been significantly reduced. Unfortunately, criminals do not always present themselves as criminals in advance. The access to this historical data helped us uncover a homicide and bring those responsible to justice,” Szeniawski concludes.
Shawn Smith, founder and president of Vigilant Solutions, adds, “While Sgt. Szeniawski credits the LPR data with uncovering this homicide and telling them exactly where to look, it’s important to credit the Cobb County Police Department for excellent work. Because they included the license plate on the flyer, because Det. Thorp took the initiative to run the plate, and because the detectives made the decision to review the video footage – that is what took these two dangerous individuals off the street and gave closure to the victim’s family.”
About Vigilant Solutions
Based in Livermore, Calif., Vigilant Solutions is an industry‐leading pioneer of innovative intelligence solutions that help law enforcement protect officers, families, and communities.