By Alecia Reid

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Camden police say a critical piece of technology has helped close the books on more crimes within the city, and it’s even helping neighboring communities as well.

Every gun leaves its own unique markings on ejected shell casings.

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For the past seven years, the Camden Police Department has been taking advantage of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. It’s the only NIBIN machine in South Jersey, given to the department by the ATF.

“It runs it through a database that has millions upon millions of entries and it can link that gun back to several different crimes that have happened,” Lt. Christy Sarlo said.

Sometimes those guns are linked to crimes in different cities.

“We’ve already come back with 102 potential links for casings or for discharge casings that’s been from firearms that have been put into the system,” Sarlo said.

Once a casing is recovered, it’s cleaned, placed in the NIBIN machine, 2D and 3D images are taken and then run through a different system to find a match.

What used to take weeks to connect crime scenes can now take just hours.

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“That system helps us identify and has helped us identify through urgent cases within four hours,” Camden Police Chief Gabe Rodriguez said.

Within the last decade, the homicide clearance rate increased from 40% in 2012 to 69% in 2021. The department went from solving 14% of shootings to 27%.

“It helps us really put the puzzles together,” Rodriguez said.

Camden police are also assisting surrounding towns that may need help identifying trigger pullers.

“This system helps us connect those dots,” Rodriguez said. “So we know there’s an issue with this group here and this group across so we can deploy officers appropriately to prevent any further violence.”

Rodriguez says ghost guns remain an issue. As of now, you can track casings to a ghost gun, but there’s no way of tracking the owner.

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For now, the NIBIN machine has made a huge difference in solving crimes.