License plate reader leads to rescue of alleged kidnapping victim in Hartselle
By Eric Fleischauer
For the Enquirer
An automated license plate reader that communicates with a national crime database was instrumental last week in the arrest of a kidnapper driving a stolen vehicle and the rescue of his victim, according to Hartselle police.
“This is some good technology,” said Hartselle Lt. Alan McDearmond, who made the arrest. “I’ve probably intercepted about five or six stolen vehicles with it myself.”
Hartselle has about eight license plate readers manufactured by Flock Safety. The devices have cameras that are mounted on poles with a battery charged with a small solar panel. They contain SIM cards like those used in cellphones and instantly check all of the license plate numbers of vehicles that drive by against the National Crime Information Center database.
Hartselle police officers and dispatch receive emails or texts alerting them if a plate number has been flagged, with a reference to the law enforcement agency that is looking for the vehicle and the reason the vehicle is being sought.
McDearmond on April 21 received an automatic email that advised him that a license plate reader had detected a plate number associated with a gray Infiniti that had been reported stolen in Massachusetts. The email included a photo of the license plate and a portion of the rear of the car. He drove to the area where it had been detected and searched for the car, eventually finding it parked at the Exxon station at Alabama 36 and Interstate 65.
Antonio Jose Concepcion, 37, was in the driver’s seat and a woman was in the passenger seat, McDearmond said.
“When I walked up to the car, I said the reason I pulled you over is because your vehicle is registered as stolen. She said, ‘It’s my vehicle,’ and she hands me the registration out of the glove box, but it’s not her name on the registration,” McDearmond said.
He returned to his vehicle while another officer kept the Infiniti under observation.
In the meantime, dispatch had obtained additional information from the NCIC, including a notation that the stolen car might have a connection to a missing person.
McDearmond then separated Concepcion and the woman so he could interview the woman.
“She said (Concepcion) threatened to kill her adult daughter if she didn’t comply with him,” McDearmond said in an affidavit filed in Morgan County District Court, and “later told investigators that when they were pulled over (Concepcion) pulled a knife out and threatened to stab her to death.”
In investigating the matter, McDearmond determined that Concepcion had worked on the day of his arrest at a temp agency.
“So he showed up to work and he had this lady in the car. He told her that if she tried to leave, he was going to have her daughter killed. So she sat out there all day in the car while he went into work. He had her phone with him so she couldn’t make any calls,” McDearmond said.
“He had her terrorized.”
Concepcion remained in the Morgan County Jail on Thursday in lieu of a $200,000 bond. If he posts bond, he is also required to avoid contact or communication with the victim or her family.
Court records list Concepcion’s address as an apartment on Kelly Avenue Southwest, although McDearmond said his understanding was that the man had recently resided in Massachusetts.
“I think he’s got some ties here, maybe some family. He was going to try to come back here and try to live with that lady somehow,” McDearmond said.