(WHDH) — Police departments are gaining ground on would-be thieves by using the latest hi-tech gear.
Cameras that read license plates are being installed around Massachusetts and Rhode Island and one couple says the cameras are worth their weight in gold after they survived a violent crime.
“I didn’t think it was real at first, I thought someone was playing a prank on us,” said Jennifer.
“The gentleman that came to my side had a gun,” said Gordon.
A quick trip to a convenience store turned frightening for Jennifer and Gordon last summer.
“We were immediately blocked in by another car. Immediately two gentlemen approached,” Gordon said.
One man attacked Gordon on his side of the car, while Jennifer was fighting off another attacker on the driver’s side.
“He was trying to pull me out and I’m fighting back and then he just punched me right in my nose,” said Jennifer.
“He spun around and hit me in the top of the head with the gun,” said Gordon. “He hit me again -at that point I kind of lost consciousness.”
Jennifer – who was nine months pregnant – stopped fighting.
“I knew I had to back down and that was the right thing to do for myself and for my baby,” she said.
The thieves drove off – but they didn’t get far.
“They caught them the following day. They only had our vehicle for about five hours,” Gordon said.
Some hi-tech help quickly led police to this motel in Warwick – and the stolen car.
An extensive camera system captures license plates on all vehicles driving through the area.
Colonel Michael Winquist, Chief of Police in Cranston, Rhode Island tells 7NEWS, “we were able to put the plate into the system. A very alert police officer was patrolling a hotel in that area. Found the car with blood on the side. They eventually came out and surrendered.
If it wasn’t for the cameras I don’t think we would have had the lead that we had to locate these people.”
7NEWS got a behind-the-scenes look at the network of electronic eyes.
“This is saying that it’s a stolen license plate right here. The system itself is not probable cause to stop a vehicle; make an arrest or anything– that’s just information. We proceed with our normal checks that we would do to verify because the last thing we want to do is stop an innocent motorist,” said Lt. Justin Dutra from Cranston PD.
Gordon and Jennifer – who now have a baby boy – are thankful the cameras were working that night.
“If the technology is out there, then why not utilize it to save people and save lives,” said Gordon.
“It could have went down a whole different path. But it didn’t. And we’re lucky and we’re all healthy and wonderful and definitely, God was on our side,” said Jennifer.
It’s important to note these cameras do not capture images of people and they are not used to ticket drivers for traffic violations.
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