Warning to Thieves: This Car Could be Bait

Dallas police warn would-be car thieves of bait vehicles

Dallas police are publicly warning would-be thieves that a bait car is in use around the Market Center this weekend.

A portable electronic message sign on Harry Hines Boulevard at Market Center Boulevard flashed the bait car information Friday.

"We’re going to give them a message right off the bat," Sgt. Gil Cerda said. "'This car may be a bait car that you’re getting into, and you will be caught, and you will be charged with auto theft."

Bait cars are equipped with cameras and a remote engine cutoff so police can record the crime and then follow and stop the thief. 

Dallas has arrested hundreds of auto thieves using the method, but it came under fire after an 83-year-old Dallas woman was killed in a crash with a man driving a bait car in June 2008.

Police stopped the bait car program for a time after the crash but say they have improved it.

"We have very, very close monitoring of the vehicle and its status, where it's at," Cerda said.

An estimated 50,000 people from around the world are visiting the Market Center through Tuesday for a trade show. People at the Dallas Market Center on Friday said they were pleased with the effort to combat auto thieves.

But Jason Hester, a visitor from Australia, wondered if the warning would just send crooks to other neighborhoods.

"If they’re just going to force them into another area, that’s no good either, is it?" he said.

Delynn Boulware, of Dallas, said chasing thieves in bait cars could be risky.

"I think it’s how they handle the chase, which has always been an issue that they’ve discussed in the past," Boulware said. "If they’re going to catch them, I’m all for it."

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