Bait Car Program Taking a Bite Out of Crime

Dennis Faas's picture

Ever had your car stolen? The feeling one gets when approaching an empty parking space is of almost unsurpassed revulsion and horror. Well, now police are starting to fight back against car thieves, and they're doing it with a combination of technology and hard-nosed detective work.

Car theft is certainly a rampant problem. In 2006, nearly 1.2 million cars were stolen in the United States, and although that's down about 3.5 per cent, the problem is still one of America's most concerning and popular crimes. (Source:

However, the popular "bait car" program might be more than just a sensational gimmick.  Officers in Vancouver, British Columbia have been using the cars to fool criminals and the results indicate that the scheme --- which dupes car thieves into stealing vehicles monitored and even remotely controlled by police --- is having a real affect on the west coast city's auto theft problem.

Most "bait cars" are technological wonders. Many come fully equipped with a variety of gadgets meant to catch crooks in a sticky web:

  • Spy cameras to catch the identity of the alleged criminal
  • Remote immobilizers that can stop a vehicle when police are ready to make the arrest
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) tools that can find a joyriding criminal just about anywhere

The bait car program has been used in Vancouver for over five years now, and the results are astounding. According to British Columbia Solicitor General John van Dongen, car thefts across the province have dropped an impressive 45 per cent --- nearly half --- since "bait cars" were first used in 2003. In the Greater Vancouver area, the most populated part of B.C., thefts have plummeted 61 per cent, from 5,320 to 2,100. (Source:

Vancouver residents are even more likely to get their vehicles back. Members of the city's auto crime team recently told the Vancouver Sun that recovery rates are sitting around 93 per cent, meaning that only a handful of cars are destroyed or stripped. (Source:

Looks like this is one case where we should all be happy that big brother is watching.

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