The use of auto theft bait cars to lure thieves has proven successful in the Washington, D.C., area. Arlington, Va., was the first county in the region to adopt the program, and most other jurisdictions have now joined it, reports the Washington Post. Bait vehicles tempt thieves with unlocked doors or keys in the ignitions. When a thief takes the bait, hidden audio and video recording devices are activated, and a silent alarm alerts authorities. GPS systems track the car, and police are dispatched. When officers are in position, the engine is disabled doors locked by remote control.
Arlington police officers have made 56 arrests since the first car was deployed in February 2002. Every defendant has pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor theft charges because of the “indisputable video evidence,” said a police official. The cars are placed in high-theft neighborhoods. In 2002, when the program began, 676 cars were stolen in Arlington. Last year, the number decreased to 419, the county’s lowest figure since 1965.