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Criminal or privacy violator?

GURNEE, IL — Since September, Gurnee Mills has been using Flock Safety’s automated license plate reading system as a way to stop crime happening at the mall.

“We had seven arrests [and] we were able to recover four stolen vehicles, said Shawn Gaylor, an officer with the Gurney Police Department. “And that’s just the beginning in two months.”

Holly Beilein, spokeswoman for Flock Safety, said about 70% of crimes are committed by vehicle, so being able to install technology like a license plate reader in places like Gurney Mills helps provide evidence for a large portion of the crime. which is happening there.

Flock Safety’s license plate reading system takes photos of the rear license plate of cars entering and leaving the mall and notifies police in real time if the registered owner is wanted locally or nationally for a crime, if the vehicle is stolen or if the vehicle is connected to an amber or silver alarm.

“Police have a hard enough job,” said Don Hubbart, a buyer at Gurnee Mills. “So we support their ideas to try to make the community safer.”

However, not everyone uses license plate reading systems.

“It also protects the community because you’re protecting those around you,” said Kathryn, a shopper at Gurnee Mills. “At the same time, it’s a violation of your privacy because you’re scanning my plate without my permission.”

In a similar vein, the ACLU issued a statement condemning the use of automated license plate reading systems.

“Automatic license plate readers are a powerful surveillance tool that allows you to track, record and store a driver’s location,” the statement said. “For this reason, the ACLU opposes the use of such devices.”

The ACLU goes on to say, “In this case — where a private company apparently controls the cameras — it raises questions about whether Gurnee Mills customers will ever know how their location data is being used or shared.”

Flock Safety said information stored in their system is deleted after 30 days and the readers do not use facial recognition technology.

Gurnee Mills’ use of automated license plate readers is not a completely foreign concept to the Chicago area, as police departments in Elk Grove, Niles, Palatine, Naperville and Oak Park also use the systems.


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