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Victoria sees 59 per cent drop in vehicle thefts since Bait Car program began

Mar 09 2012
1. Ford F-Series: Includes Ford F150, F250, F350, F450, F550, F650, F750 

1. Ford F-Series: Includes Ford F150, F250, F350, F450, F550, F650, F750

Photograph by: Postmedia news photo, Regina Leader Post

Police are linking a dramatic drop in car theft and thefts from vehicles to a successful Bait Car program which has been in operation for almost a decade.

Car theft in B.C. dropped 71 per cent since 2003, when the program was introduced province-wide, and thefts from vehicles are down 64 per cent in the same eight-year period.

In Victoria, there was a 59 per cent decline in vehicle thefts, with 120 thefts in 2011, down from 290 in 2003.

Car break-ins also dipped by 46 per cent, with 400 thefts from vehicles in 2011, compared to 740 in 2003.

The Bait Car program, first started by Vancouver police in 2002, places dummy cars in areas often targeted for theft. When the thief starts the car, which is tracked via a global positioning system, a video camera captures their every move and police officers can kill the engine so they can move in and arrest the culprit.

The program went province-wide in 2003, with the creation of B.C.'s Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT).

Police added to the "bait fleet" over the years, to include all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, watercrafts, motorcycles and mobile homes.

The program recently expanded to include using commercial vehicles as bait cars.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond applauded decline in auto crime over the last 10 years.

"We actually caught 77 of the 80 most wanted car thieves in that time," she said in a statement.

Most police departments have noted that property crime in general is steadily declining, often attributed to the aging population and greater focus on crime prevention and the targeting of prolific offenders.

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