LOS ANGELES, CA – An entire Sherman Oaks neighborhood banded together to purchase new license plate scanners, as a tool they hope will keep criminals out.

  • License plate scanners pop up in Sherman Oaks
  • Longridge Estates has seen rash of home burglaries
  • Cameras in every entrance or exit point

Matt Epstein and his wife, Jane, are earthquake proofing their plates

"These are from our wedding. These are 25 years old," they said.

The couple also works together as real estate agents and they know the importance crime-proofing their community. For more than year, their Longridge Estates Neighborhood in Sherman Oaks has seen a rash of home burglaries. They tried hiring dedicated patrol cars, but that didn’t work.

"The bad guys, especially at night time when they would see a car coming up the street, they’d hide in the bush, wait until the car goes away and then jump over the fence," Epstein said.

So, the couple came up with an alternative plan.

"We were able to raise enough money to put up 11 or 12 cameras in the neighborhood at every entrance or exit point," Epstein said.

The cameras are made by Flock, an Atlanta-based company. The cameras don’t actually record video, but will scan license plates of cars that pass by creating a database, where it is stored for 30 days.  The readers are part of a growing security trend nationwide. 

"If somebody noticed a white car that was involved in a burglary, we can type white car during certain hours and it will pull up just the white cars," Epstein said.

That information could give police the evidence they need to make an arrest. The Los Angeles Police Department wouldn’t discuss the issue on camera, but said the devices are legal, even if they are controversial. The scanners are on private property and are placed in areas where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Epstein hopes they are a warning sign to criminals.

"[If] they actually see cameras that are up there, they’ll hopefully go to another neighborhood," Epstein said.

According to Epstein, only four executive board members have full access to the cameras, and neighborhood cars can be taken out of the system.

"I love my life and I’m not going to be sitting around a video camera 24 hours a day," said Epstein.

Ultimately, as a husband and father, Epstein has more important things to protect than just his plates and so do his neighbors.

"We have the right to be in a safe community, and this is just hopefully one thing that will make it safer," said Epstein.