Auto thieves sped off with 19 vehicles in Golden Valley in 2011 and another 24 in 2012, contributing to a sustained increase in the crime during the last few years.
But soon Golden Valley police may have a new tool to put the brakes on those numbers with a "bait car" thanks to the fundraising efforts of Covenant Village in Golden Valley last month.An Aug. 14 pancake fundraiser at the Covenant Village raised $1,017, which provided the much needed help the Golden Valley Police Department needed to reach its goal. The total costs for a bait car will be around $5,000, but the department will use some flexible funds to make up the difference, Golden Valley Police Chief Stacy Carlson told Patch in a recent email.
What is a bait car? A bait car mimics a make and model of vehicle that is frequently stolen. It contains software and GPS signaling that notifies dispatch when the car is stolen and where it is located. Police then have the ability to shut down the car remotely avoiding a high speed pursuit.
“It’s a way to confirm and arrest auto thieves with as little danger as possible,” Carlson said in a previous post. "Auto theft is a hard crime to make an arrest in. Thieves tend to dump the cars quickly or turn them into parts and the evidence is lost."
But if thieves steal a bait car, a conviction is guaranteed. Everything that happens in a bait car is recorded, she said. In addition to leading to more convictions, bait cars also discourage would-be thieves who know the technology is out there and don’t want to take their chances.
Auto theft is a persistent problem throughout the United States; according to the FBI, a car is stolen every 40 seconds. Nationally, auto theft increased 1.7 percent in 2012 (more than 720,000 motor vehicle thefts with an estimated value of $4.3 billion). Stolen vehicles are frequently used to facilitate other criminal acts such as burglaries, robberies, identity theft, drive-by shootings and drug sales. To help keep your vehicle from being stolen--never leave it running unattended and park in well-lit, highly visible area.
(Information from the city of Golden Valley's website.)