Fort Worth Police Celebrate Success of Bait Cars

Program aimed at catching car thieves nears 1,000 arrests

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 5
    Since the Fort Worth program started in late 2006, more than 980 thieves have been arrested, and police expect to hit the 1,000 mark soon.

    Fort Worth's "bait car" program has caught nearly 1,000 car thieves red-handed since 2006, police said.

    So-called "bait cars" have hidden cameras and GPS tracking devices and are placed in parking lots around the city. When someone steals one, police quickly move in to arrest them.

    Police in Dallas, Arlington, Grand Prairie and other cities also use bait cars.

    Since the Fort Worth program started in late 2006, more than 980 thieves have been arrested, and police expect to hit the 1,000 mark soon.

    At the same time, the number of car thefts has plummeted. In 2006, Fort Worth recorded 3,500 stolen cars. This year, only 1,493 cars were stolen from January through August.

    "It is a tool this department will continue to use," said Fort Worth police spokeswoman Cpl. Tracey Knight. "And they deploy those cars everywhere, so the key is, if you are going to steal a car in Fort Worth, there's a good chance it's a bait car."

    Most of those arrested stealing bait cars already have criminal records for everything from burglary to murder, police said.

    The National Crime Insurance Bureau pays for the bait cars. The insurance industry is interested in reducing car thefts to reduce expensive claims.

    And sometimes, police stumble across other crimes. Officers recently questioned a man who was acting suspiciously around a bait car and found he was carrying 27 stolen guns in a bag, Knight said.