McLean neighborhood tackling crime by installing license plate scanners

A small neighborhood of 12 homes in McClean, Virginia is taking matters into their own hands to fight crime. 

Due to the fact that some high-profile people live in the area, FOX 5 is not disclosing the location to respect their privacy. Residents like Phil Horvitz, who is also an HOA board member, have been rattled after seeing an increase in crime, so they installed three high-tech license plate reader cameras.

"From a security standpoint, we knew that home security and the security of our neighborhood was more than what people were putting in their houses to augment that and put some tools in place so if there’s an incident we can provide investigators and police with that additional information that could help solve crimes," Horvitz said.

The camera does not take video, only still images scanning every car entering and leaving the neighborhood 24/7. It’s called a Flock Safety System and the company says it will help the community reduce crime by 70%.

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"What most people don’t realize is 7 in 10 crimes are actually committed with the aid of a vehicle so what that means is that when a detective is looking at a case to try and go and find evidence to solve it, the most productive lead is a license plate and those vehicle details. That’s the best piece of objective evidence that a detective can use to pursue a case," said Holly Beilin, a spokeswoman for Flock Safety.

Neighbors say it serves as a deterrent for crime because they haven’t had any serious incidents since it was installed in August 2021. The technology takes an image of a vehicle entering the neighborhood scanning the color, make, and model.

Where does the captured license plate information go? Well, the data is encrypted, stored in a cloud, and deleted after 30 days. Only HOA board member, Phil Horvitz, can access the files and each search is documented with a reason. The information is only shared with law enforcement if a crime occurs. 


The neighborhood has a safe list, so residents can request for the camera not to track their comings and goings. 

According to Fairfax County Police, the McLean neighborhood reported five burglaries back in 2019, a trespassing incident in March 2020, men trying to enter a locked vehicle in June 2021, larceny from a motor vehicle in July 2021, and burglary in August 2021.

Flock Safety Systems have been installed in 1,500 cities across 40 states. This is the first neighborhood in Fairfax County to install this type of technology.

The company has 35 customers in Virginia (25 of them are private and 10 are law enforcement), four customers in DC, and 30 in Maryland.