Car theft is a huge problem in the United State. According to some reports, every 25 seconds there is a car somewhere being stolen, with the majority of the thefts occurring in metropolitan areas. This is all about to change as police are getting savvy to emerging technologies and employing GPS tracking devices in specialized bait cars designed to nab would be criminals in the act. How far do you think a thief is going to get with the watchful eyes in the sky peering down on them? Police in cities all across America know that they will not get far.
While the practice of using bait cars is certainly not new, the recent integration of several different technologies together has made them much more effective. Things like real time GPS tracking as well as a few other features generally used in a fleet management context, like remote engine shut off, are now being employed to help police track down bait cars once they have been stolen and nab the suspects. Also, hidden cameras installed inside the vehicle make sure that police are able to gather solid proof that the person they apprehend is in fact the person that toke the car.
As you might suspect, these bait cars are very helpful for police trying to reduce automobile theft. There are four things that are particularly helpful for the police:
- Reduce cost associated with operating a bait car sting – In the past, whenever the police would try and use a bait car technique they would always have to have an officer present around the vehicle to make sure that when the car was taken it could be easily tracked and recovered. Since these vehicles can sit for days without any action, the police would “waste” precious tax payer dollars watching a car. Now that GPS tracking systems have been installed in these vehicles the police can know whenever the automobile is on the move, dispatching the closest unit to the scene to take care of the situation. Once the squad car comes onto the scene the dispatcher can turn off the engine of the bait car and the suspect can be easily apprehended. This saves metropolitan governments tons of money since they can use existing resources in the field, resources which they are already paying for.
- Increase effectiveness in tracking down suspects because of the GPS tracking device – As was mentioned in the previous point, having the GPS coordinates of the stolen vehicle is a very useful for tracking it down and recovering the vehicle. By using real time GPS tracking for cars, the police will be able to monitor the vehicles movements and capture it on their own terms. Perhaps they want to wait on the car to see if it taken to a chop so that they can crack down on the larger criminal ecosystem that runs in hot cars – no problem, they can let this happen with confidence knowing that they will know the location of the vehicle at any moment.
- Generate an amazing conviction rate – According to one insurance provider involved in these GPS tracking bait cars, Nationwide, the conviction rate is 98 percent for suspects picked up in connection with their use. That is excellent.
- Reduce the number of car thieves – One of the consequences of such a high conviction rate is that less crimes are occurring in cities that use these high tech techniques. For example, Las Vegas, Nevada has seen an amazing 44 percent reduction in the number of car thefts after just two years of using GPS tracking to recover the stolen vehicles. Another city, Charlotte, North Carolina, has seen a 20 percent reduction in just one year of use. This leads me to believe two things about this technique. The first is that the longer this technique is used the larger the drop in car thefts will be. The second is that using GPS tracker equipped bait cars is effective because it nabs repeat offenders, taking them off the street and behind bars. Since only a few thieves are responsible for a large potion of theft this is a very effective tool at reducing the number of thefts in the future.
When police use GPS vehicle tracking they are very effective at convicting criminals, reducing costs, and running a more effective and efficient government.
But this type of tracking is certainly not without its hazards. The one main thing that could seriously inhibit the polices use of bait cars are GPS tracking blockers. If a criminal were to use this technology the police would be unable to locate the car. If they were then to use some sort of cell phone or radio jammer as well then the police would also not be able to shut off the car remotely. The criminals would win and the police would be out a very expensive tool in the fight against crime. Luckily, many are not aware of GPS blockers or how to effectively use them.
This is another clear example of the good that governments using GPS tracking can accomplish. Do you think that this is a valid use of GPS tracking by a government agency? Should the police be limited in doing this? Is it an appropriate use of tax payer dollars?