Pancake Breakfast Fund Raiser To Help Police Combat Car Theft

Auto thieves sped off with 19 vehicles in Golden Valley in 2011 and another 24 in 2012, contributing to a sustained increase in the crime over the last few years, but soon Golden Valley police may have a new tool to put the brakes on those numbers: a bait car. The City doesn’t currently have funds to cover the car equipment and software costs, but it will get help Aug 14 from a Covenant Village retirement community pancake breakfast fund-raiser.

The fund-raiser will be held Aug. 14 from 8:30-10:30 am at Covenant Village, 5800, St. Croix Ave N. The all-you-can eat event will be $3 per person and include pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee. To RSVP, call 877-309-0312 or register online.

Auto theft is a hard crime to make an arrest in, says Golden Valley Police Chief Stacy Carlson says. Thieves tend to dump the cars quickly, or turn them into parts and the evidence is lost. But, she adds, if they steal a bait car, a conviction is guaranteed. Everything that happens in a bait car is recorded.

A bait car mimics a make and model that is frequently stolen. It contains software and GPS signaling that notify dispatch when the car is stolen and where it is. Police then have the ability to shut down the car remotely, avoiding a high speed pursuit.

“It’s a way to confirm and arrest auto thieves with as little danger as possible,” Carlson says.

In addition to leading to more convictions, she adds, bait cars also discourage would-be thieves who know the technology is out there and don’t want to take their chances.

Auto theft is a persistent problem throughout the United States; according to the FBI, a car is stolen every 40 seconds. Nationally, auto theft increased 1.7 percent in 2012 (more than 720,000 motor vehicle thefts with an estimated value of $4.3 billion). Stolen vehicles are frequently used to facilitate other criminal acts such as burglaries, robberies, identity theft, drive-by shootings, and drug sales. To help keep your vehicle from being stolen, never leave it running unattended, and park in well-lit, highly visible areas.

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