Columbia Police to Expand Bait Cars
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police said Thursday it will use $8,000 appropriated by the Columbia City Council to expand the bait car program aimed at catching car thieves. Police place bait cars in random places in Columbia so thieves can try to steal the car or items placed inside them. The program began in January of 2008 and since then, reports have come out that showed car thefts have gone down even though the Columbia's population is up. Official numbers for 2010 will not be available until January 28th according Detective Chris Boyle of the Columbia Police.
"This year we will use the money to help keep the program going. We want to keep the software updated, bait car training, as well as up keep the equipment needed," said Boyle.
One car owner said the idea of a bait car program is smart and is needed.
"I think it's a proactive approach for the police to be seeking people who would be looking around for cars to steal weather it be items in the car or the cars themselves," said Pam Kelrick.
Boyle said the bait car program is used as a deterrent for car thefts. According to a report by the Columbia Police Department, in 2007 there were 220 car thefts, in 2008 that went down to 147, and in 2009 there were 132. The population increased roughly each year and Boyle said he hopes to get more bait cars out there.
"When the cars get stolen we collect evidence because of the video cameras. We get the bad guys in the car and we can arrest them right away," said Boyle.
According to Boyle, if thieves simply steal items from the cars, police take pictures of the criminals. This method has led to several arrests as well.
"There are days where we all forget to take something out of our cars weather it be an iPod or cell phone. It's nice to know that the police are proactively trying to make sure people who are trying to steal them don't," said Kelrick.
Boyle said anyone having problems with car thefts in a certain area should contact him at the Columbia Police Department.