Shreveport, La., Police Using High-Tech Cars as Bait

July 10, 2006

Cars donated by insurance companies around the state will soon be put out as bait for Shreveport, La.’s thieves. They’ll be left out on the street as soon as officers can be taught how to use their high-tech tracking equipment.

And the hidden camera and tape, and the remote-control engine override and door locks.

Police Chief Mike Campbell announced the department’s plans for “bait cars.” He’s hoping they’ll cut the city’s car theft rate, which has risen 15 percent from last year.

“I think it’s going to make a major impact on our vehicle theft problem,” Campbell said.

Car theft is a crime of opportunity. “This is a way for us to be proactive,” Detective Brandon Ortiz said.

He said the bait cars could range from 1980s models Chevrolet Caprices to brand new Cadillac Escalades. Tracking and surveillance equipment can be taken out of one vehicle and put into another if thieves catch on to a particular model or if thefts for a particular type of car go up.

Manpower for the auto theft crackdown should be similar to that of any other call that police respond to, Ortiz said. When a bait car is stolen, dispatch officers will be notified through a computer alarm, and they will send patrol officers to the scene, he said.

Patrol officers then let dispatch officers know when they are ready to shut the car down and make a stop, Ortiz said. Officers will make the stop only when it would not endanger other occupants in other vehicles.

Campbell would not specify how many bait cars would be used in Shreveport, but Charlie Peters, a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said he hopes more cars will be donated.

“Eventually we’d like to have a whole fleet of vehicles just in case they stop stealing one,” Peters said.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a support agency for law enforcement and insurance providers, helped set up the Shreveport bait car program.

Campbell said officers will be trained on how to use the equipment and expects the cars to be in use in “a couple weeks.”

Information from: The Times,

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