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Thieves Tempted by Bait

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 30 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 36,38-40,42,43
Jennifer Mertens
Date Published
April 2003
6 pages
This article discusses radio and GPS tracking in the bait vehicle practice of preventing vehicle theft.
The Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention (TRAP) in Los Angeles, CA, employs a traditional, watch-and-wait method of bait vehicles. The task force sees such a huge turnover in vehicle theft that bait cars are almost immediately and continually preyed upon. Due to this high turnover, TRAP installs only 30-minute videotapes in its vehicles. This is the longest amount of time the task force lets the bait sit in one location. The six TRAP teams run operations maybe once or twice a week, making 5 to 15 arrests, on average, in a 4-hour period. The task force investigates and prosecutes vehicle theft and assists agencies in auto theft deterrence. When an agency reports a theft problem and requests assistance, TRAP provides equipment, surveillance, and tracking of a bait car. TRAP employs a receiver from Pegasus Technologies Inc. of Sacramento, CA, in its bait cars. The PROACT is a portable system consisting of the Remote Control Unit, the Vehicle Locator Unit, and a mobile tracking receiver. The PROACT works to track vehicles after they are stolen, but it also eliminates the risk of long and fast pursuits. A pilot project called the HGI Stinger was developed in 1996 and uses GPS tracking and audio/visual equipment. Those departments that use the HGI Stinger bait vehicle program can choose to be self-monitored through their own dispatch center or through a response center located in Toronto (Canada). In 6 months, the Minnesota Police Department experienced a 35 percent reduction in auto thefts using the HGI Stinger. The Stinger module eliminates vehicle pursuits and is affordable. The Global/Guard tracking system uses two-way messaging technology and GPS location technology to aid in stopping auto thieves. When using bait vehicles, it is important to display the cars as a regular citizen’s car would look, rotate the bait, and use the optimal vehicle. A bait vehicle media campaign will raise community awareness and warn criminals that the bait does exist.