Allowing thieves to steal especially equipped ‘bait’ cars is one of the more radical ways police in the US and Canada are tackling car theft.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported a 16 per cent drop in the number of cars stolen between 2007 and 2008 in British Columbia (BC), the result largely being attributed to the Bait Car programme.
Since the programme’s inception in 2003 the number of cars stolen in BC has dropped by a massive 47 per cent.
In that time the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has seen claims for vehicle theft fall by around $40 million (A$45 million).
In the US and Canada, bait cars are equipped with GPS tracking devices, audio visual recording devices and technology that allows the car to be remotely shut down.
The bait cars are left in areas of high car theft.
Once stolen, police can track the location of the car and monitor live video and audio of the thieves inside it.
They then wait until the car is in a location where it can be safely intercepted and remotely disable it.
Bait cars have been used in various Australian jurisdictions, according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.
In Australia however, bait cars are immobilised as soon as the offenders are inside in order to protect the public and limit property damage.
In South Australia the bait car programme Stop Car Theft resulted in arrests for almost 200 offences between 2007 and 2008.
The programme’s arrest rate is three times higher than the car theft arrest rate from general patrols.