Solving Crimes with Vigilant, LPR and Commercial Data

The technology and use of license plate recognition (LPR) tool is constantly questioned and misunderstood. As we’ve talked about before, a common misconception is that LPR tools are used as means to track individuals, resulting in an invasion of privacy. The actual purpose of the technology is to aid law enforcement in generating hot leads and solving cases.  Today, we take a look at an example of how beneficial LPR tools are to law enforcement.

How LPRs and the Database Works

LPR technology is made up of three components: the cameras, the database and the analytical engine.  The cameras, either fixed or mobile, generates data that the agency owns.  Agencies also have access to commercial data.  The commercial database holds data collected nationwide via asset recovery.  Data that is captured includes photos of license plates, and the date, time and GPS coordinates where the photo was taken.  As you will see, this case is a perfect way to utilize Vigilant Solutions commercial database.

Access to the databases and unique analytical tools allow for departments to search starting with either a plate, partial plate, year/make/model or address, each producing slightly different results.

The Situation

A police department in a suburb outside Philadelphia was having difficulty solving a series of burglaries.  The only information that the department had was a description of the vehicle from a video surveillance system.  From the video officers were able to gather the make, model and distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle.  It was a silver 2000 Nissan Maxima with a black hood and bumper.  Unfortunately, with the department’s efforts and it’s current LPR technology the car could not be located.  Therefore, the individual could not be apprehended.

During the investigation the department learned about Vigilant Solutions and felt the tool could help solve this crime.  The department was offered a short trial to Vigilant Solutions Commercial Database to see if a lead could be generated.  Let’s look at the timeline of events:


Early Tuesday evening the officer was given his credentials and access to Vigilant’s system.  He used the vehicle’s make and model to search within the commercial data.  The search generated a list of vehicles, which the officer was then able to manually look through.  Late Tuesday night, the officer was able to match the image he had of the vehicle to one in the system.  The match identified the license plate, showing it was an out of state vehicle. A search of the plate in the system showed that the vehicle was captured 30 times around the area.  A plan for a surveillance team was made for the next day.


The surveillance team was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. However, before the surveillance began the suspect committed another burglary and was apprehended. The police department was able to generate a hot lead using Vigilant within hours and could have assisted with the apprehension days if not months prior to this arrest.

LPR’s are not an invasion of privacy, but a useful investigative tool that law enforcement can use in conjunction with traditional investigation methods.  If you would like to learn more about the capabilities of Vigilant, please watch our on-demand webinar.