The signs appeared throughout the parking lot at Town Square a few weeks ago: “Car thieves beware … bait cars are out there! Steal one, go to jail.” The posted warnings are new to the mall on Las Vegas Boulevard South, but they are part of a Metropolitan Police program that has been in effect for about five years.
Bait cars are vehicles planted by Metro that are equipped with surveillance and tracking devices, as well as interfaces that allow police to shut off the engine, lock the doors and roll up the windows, essentially trapping car thieves inside the vehicles for easy apprehension.
“We put [the signs] up around the holidays to remind would-be car thieves that we are watching,” Metro public information officer Bill Cassell says.
Police employ the bait cars year-round, and the locations vary throughout the year, with the vehicles not only parked in mall lots but in residential areas.
With the holiday season in full swing, Cassell urges drivers to take plenty of precautions while doing their shopping.
“I can’t emphasize enough the concept of hiding your valuables,” he says. “Make your car an unattractive target. Don’t give someone a reason to break into the car.”
Or you can just get an unattractive car.