Dallas police suspended an auto theft bait car program indefinitely while they investigate why they failed to remotely turn off a vehicle before a convicted felon drove it into another car, killing an 83-year-old woman, the Dallas Morning News reports. Officers spotted the bait vehicle less than 30 seconds before the accident and called for dispatchers to turn off its engine. Dispatchers attempting to remotely stop the car received an error message, presumably because the collision had occurred.
The driver, previously convicted of stealing a Dallas police bait car, faces charges of felony theft and murder. Chief David Kunkle said: “We still think the bait cars are a very, very valuable tool and a safer way to arrest auto theft suspects than almost any of the other alternatives.” Police have made 245 arrests using them since launching the program in 2004. Overall vehicle thefts have decreased since the program began. In the case this week, it was unclear how many seconds it took dispatchers to attempt to stop the vehicle, but the remote technology is not instantaneous.