The Joplin Police Department in Missouri solved two recent hit-and-run cases with the assistance of license plate reader (LPR) data from Vigilant Solutions.
Officer Brian Wenberg explains, "I was assigned a hit‐and‐run case in which the victim was walking out of a convenience store and witnessed an elderly male back out of a parking space next to his vehicle, striking his vehicle and leaving the scene. In his statement he noticed that the suspect was not wearing shoes when he left the convenience store. He believed the minivan was gold and stated that the first three letters of the Missouri license plate were SJ3. There was no other information provided.
"I spoke with the manager of the store and was told that the security cameras were not working at the time so there was no video. I ran the partial tag through all of our local systems and received no likely matches. I then did a partial plate search using Vigilant Solutions' LEARN. In reviewing the possible matches, I found only one gold minivan matching the partial plate.
"I drove to the apartment building where the vehicle had been scanned and found it. It had damage consistent with the victim's statement. Through further investigation and upon speaking to the property manager and the suspect's son, I learned that the suspect was recently admitted to a care facility due to his declining health. The son reported that his father's feet were too swollen to get his shoes on, and he had no clue his father had been involved in an accident. The commercially available LPR data in LEARN allowed me to solve this case, allowing the victim to receive insurance compensation and assisting the family of the elderly man to better understand the risks associated with him driving an automobile.
"In another recent case, a woman was waiting to make a right turn when a gold Chevy Cavalier ran into the driver's side rear of her car. She said the white male driver with shaggy black hair sped away. Her passenger believed the Missouri license plate on the suspect car to be either 6K9Z91 or 6K9Z81.
"Neither of these plates matched the alphanumeric format for Missouri license plates, but this was the only information available from the witness. Using LEARN and Vigilant's available commercial LPR data, I ran several partial plate searches and found only one viable match on a gold Cavalier. With the full tag number, and a permissible purpose under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, I ran the tag through the state's Department of Motor Vehicles database which gave me a registered owner and address. After some investigation, we were able to locate and speak to the owner of the vehicle, who confessed to leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. Without the historical LPR data from Vigilant, this case would most likely have been closed as inactive and remain unsolved."
Based in Livermore, CA, Vigilant Solutions is a pioneer of innovative intelligence solutions that help law enforcement protect officers, families, and communities. For additional information, visit www.vigilantsolutions.com.