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Calgary Transit, Police launch bait car program to deter theft

Posted on March 11, 2010

[IMAGE]Calgary-bait-cars-full-1.jpg[/IMAGE]Calgary Transit and the Calgary Police Service launched a partnership aimed at cracking down on auto crime in the city. Calgary Transit will now use bait cars in its parking lots as an extra tool to capture car thieves and deter overall vehicle crime.   

Since the Bait Car program was introduced by the Calgary Police Service in November 2008, car thefts have decreased significantly across the city.

“Calgary Transit has over 14,000 parking stalls in its parking lots and we’re confident this proactive program will further reduce auto crime, which has already dropped by about 50 per cent through the use of existing enforcement methods,” said Brian Whitelaw, Calgary Transit’s coordinator of public safety and enforcement. “This added tool makes it even more difficult for car thieves.”  

“The message is simple. Steal a bait car and go to jail,” said Calgary police Staff Sgt. Colin Adair. “We have had a lot of success with this program as part of the overall auto theft strategy.”

The Calgary Police Service and Calgary Transit approach the issue of auto crime with a combination of education, awareness, prevention and enforcement, including the Calgary Police Service High Enforcement Auto Theft Team (HEATT) as well as the efforts of field personnel. 

A bait car is a vehicle owned by the police in partnership with Intact Insurance and is intended to be stolen. When a bait car is stolen, the location, speed and direction of travel of the vehicle is monitored by police dispatchers at Public Safety Communications through GPS tracking.

All activity in a bait car is caught on audio and video. The dispatcher will coordinate a police response. Once officers are in position to safely apprehend the bait car and driver, the engine will be disabled at the click of a mouse button which allows for the quick arrest of the car thieves.

Bait cars will be stationed at various locations throughout Calgary and Calgary Transit park and ride lots. Locations are determined by vehicle theft and property crime trends. 

According to a CBC News story, bait cars have helped reduce vehicle crimes in Calgary since the program was introduced in November 2008. Last year 4,318 vehicles were stolen, compared to more than 6,034 in 2008.

Calgary Transit and the Calgary Police Service have also partnered with the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) on the educational campaign to increase awareness on bait cars and vehicle theft. Bait car billboards are running in several locations throughout Calgary including on buses and signage in parking lots.

 METRO TV: To  watch video reporting on the story by Calgary Herald.com, click here.

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