RCMP go fishing for car thieves

Whitehorse RCMP have launched a bait car program to help cut down on vehicle thefts, police announced March 28.

Whitehorse RCMP have launched a bait car program to help cut down on vehicle thefts, police announced March 28.

Since Jan. 1, there have been 24 vehicles stolen in Whitehorse. Of those, 19 have been recovered to date, police said.

“Reducing property crime is a priority for Whitehorse RCMP,” said Sgt. Ian Fraser, acting detachment commander for Whitehorse RCMP. “We hope this initiative will encourage car thieves to rethink their actions, especially knowing that the next vehicle they target could be a bait car. At the same time, we want to remind all Yukoners to take appropriate steps to protect their property.”

Bait vehicles are police-owned vehicles “intended to be stolen.” If anybody approaches the vehicle, police are notified.

It’s equipped with a GPS so that police can track its location, speed and direction of travel. They can also remotely disable the engine if there’s a risk to public safety.

British Columbia launched its car bait program back in 2002, when the province had one of the worst rates of car theft in North America.

The program has been heralded a success and linked to a massive reduction in car theft rates.

In 2012, the B.C. government said vehicle thefts dropped 74 per cent and break-ins dropped 62 per cent after the program launched.

Whitehorse RCMP are also reminding people to follow some basic tips to prevent car theft: always lock your vehicle, even if it’s in your driveway, don’t leave a spare key inside, only park in well-lit areas, don’t leave your car running with the keys in it and don’t leave valuables inside.

Whitehorse RCMP worked with Alberta RCMP’s auto theft unit to bring the program to Whitehorse. It was quick to adopt the motto police forces elsewhere in the country uses: “Bait cars are everywhere. Steal one, go to jail.”

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