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"Bait Vehicle" Technologies and Motor Vehicle Theft Along the Southwest Border

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2007
41 pages
This report describes the use of "bait vehicles" and associated technologies in countering motor vehicle theft along the Southwest border of the United States, where vehicle theft rates are significantly higher than the national average.

The use of "bait vehicles" to increase the arrest of motor-vehicle thieves involves placing a tempting vehicle in a location where potential thieves are likely to notice it. Upon entering and driving the vehicle, video, remote-control, and tracking technologies record the theft and enable police officers to arrest the perpetrators while they are in possession of the "bait car." Recorded audio and video from inside the vehicle expedite judicial proceedings as offenders rarely contest the evidence presented. Companies that support bait vehicle technologies report that these types of vehicles are in use by over 300 agencies in the United States, with fleets of between 1 and more than 50 vehicles. Battery life (enabling the vehicle to remain unattended for several days), communications, control, mapping, and tracking are the technologies important to bait vehicle operations. The practitioner group that participated in this report identified live streaming video capability as an important potential improvement in the operation of bait vehicles. Bait vehicle effectiveness could also be improved by the dynamic analysis of motor vehicle theft trends in a jurisdiction through the use of geospatial, timeline, and other analytical tools that can inform near-term operational decisions, including the selection of particular vehicle types. Introducing automated license plate reading technology would facilitate collecting information associated with stolen motor vehicles driven into Mexico, information that would, in turn, improve the selection of bait vehicles for use along the Southwest border. 4 tables and appended information on law enforcement and technology companies, data on Southwest border State trends in motor vehicle thefts (1990-2006, and data on motor vehicle thefts and recoveries in San Diego County

Date Published: July 1, 2007