ICBC: Bait Car Program now includes theft from vehicles

British Columbia (Jan. 31, 2013) – We’ve all probably done it – hidden a purse or wallet in the car, while you’ve taken the dog for a walk, hoping car thieves aren’t active in that park. Or left a purchase in the backseat, while you ran into another store. Or, perhaps you’ve left your tools in your work van overnight, waking up at 5 am to find the window smashed, and your livelihood suddenly gone.

Police have a new way to deter thieves and help protect vehicle owners. BC’s Bait Car Program now includes ‘bait property.’ The Bait Car Program, run by the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), is recognized as the largest of its kind in the world. Since IMPACT began operating in 2003, auto theft in BC is down 73%.

“The IMPACT program has been wildly successfully over the last ten years, with a 73 per cent reduction in auto theft since the introduction of bait cars. I am very proud of the dedicated team of officers and the work they do. I am confident that the bait property program will be equally as successful as our bait vehicle program,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

This February, as in past years, IMPACT is celebrating Auto Crime Enforcement month in BC, by releasing its list of top ten car thieves. That list now includes thieves who’ve stolen from vehicles. And this year if thieves do break into a bait vehicle, and steal property, police will be tracking and monitoring that property, leading them straight to the thief.

Since IMPACT began releasing it annual Top Ten list, 85 of the 90 top ten car thieves have been apprehended.

“Thieves already know, that if they steal a bait car, they’ll go to jail,” says RCMP Inspector Gary Shinkaruk, of the integrated IMPACT team. “With the kind of evidence we’re able to put before judges, the program has been tremendously successful at putting car thieves behind bars. But there’s a new message we need to get out to thieves now – steal FROM a bait car, go to jail.”

The shift in focus from IMPACT comes as police analyzed statistics from 2012. In the last four months of the year, police across BC identified a slight increase in thefts from vehicles compared to previous years.

Bait vehicles throughout BC have now been upgraded with the latest audio and video technology to address the issue of theft from vehicles. Bait property will look no different than any other property thieves may find in vehicles, and may range from tool boxes to a gym bag. The difference is it can be tracked and monitored by police.

“Our customers have done an excellent job of helping police reduce auto crime by using anti-theft devices. However, thieves are constantly looking for any opportunity so we’re reminding customers to remain vigilant in protecting themselves from auto crime,” said Jill Blacklock, ICBC’s road safety delivery manager.

IMPACT is also releasing the list of top ten items stolen from vehicles. They are: smartphones, personal electronics, such as laptops, work tools, credit cards and ID, stereo equipment, cash and change, car parts, garage door openers, sunglasses and keys.

Thieves who break into a bait vehicle to steal property will be seen live on video at E-Comm-9-1-1, the regional emergency communications centre for southwest British Columbia. E-Comm 9-1-1 monitors all bait cars in British Columbia, 24/7 on behalf of participating police.

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