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CHICAGO (CBS) — For years we’ve been telling you about stolen cars in Chicago and expressway shootings. Now Illinois State Police have a new tool to catch the bad guys and they say it’s already working.

More eyes are on drivers, and more specifically, their cars, as CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reported from the Dan Ryan.

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99 automatic license plate readers now line the Dan Ryan — taking pictures of each and every license plate that goes by.

State Police say one reason this expressway was the first one chosen is because of the high number of shootings that happen here.

“As vehicles travel on the interstate, the cameras take a high-definition quality photo of the registration affixed to the vehicle,” said Major Matthew Gainer.

That information then goes through a list of stolen and wanted vehicles.

If one of those cars is spotted, an alert is then sent to law enforcement, alerting them to where that vehicle is traveling.

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“So the program really helps us in different ways, one it provides immediate information to our division of patrol who can respond in real-time to an incident where a stolen vehicle is traveling down the interstate. Whether that vehicle was stolen via carjacking or other means,” Gainer said.

The automatic license plate readers, or ALPR’s, have already proven effective in capturing suspects involved in expressway shootings and carjackings.

That includes three juveniles who were taken into custody on Jan. 13, after an ISP Trooper was alerted to the stolen vehicle they were in. The car had been taken in a carjacking the day before.

On Jan 14, an ISP trooper was alerted about a stolen car wanted for an expressway shooting on the 11th. That suspect was taken into custody, and two weapons were recovered from the car.

The data from the ALPR’s will also be used to track down victims and witnesses.

“It’s already been a game-changer. It’s given us an opportunity that municipal opportunities sometimes have over the state police because we don’t have people sitting on their front porch, we don’t have ring doorbell cameras, so the ALPR project is giving us those things that are gravely needed to further the investigations,” Gainer said.

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When all is said and done there will be 300 cameras installed, and with a presence on every expressway in the Chicagoland area. That timeline is unclear.

Source: CBS Chicago

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