Charlotte Police Use Bait Cars to Catch Thieves

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --

According to police, one of Charlotte's most common crimes is auto theft.

Charlottean Rick Adams had his car stolen recently.

"It was terrible. It was devastating to think that someone would take something, just like that," Adams said.

Terrible, but not uncommon; 284 cars have been stolen in Charlotte in the last two weeks alone.

Police detectives now have a new tool to help them catch auto thieves.

Four "bait cars" are now being parked in auto theft hot spots around the city.

The cars are equipped with GPS tracking devices and cameras, and the engine can be shut down and the doors locked by remote. The idea is, the thief gets in and steals the car. Then, dispatchers follow the car using GPS until an officer can respond. The engine shuts down and the doors lock, trapping the thief inside for police to arrest on the spot.

Cameras record the whole thing and that video makes compelling evidence in court.

Detective Rich Townsberg says the system is working.

"Hey, if you're going to steal a car, there's a chance it will be a bait vehicle. We have the funding and the technology. We're not trying to hide it or be sneaky about it," the dectective said.

To date, seven people have been arrested using the bait cars.

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