B.C.’s auto crimes police have shared more video this week from a “bait car” program, the latest footage showing the arrest of three car thieves at a McDonald’s drive-thru.
A bait car is a vehicle intended to be stolen, fitted with interior video surveillance and an engine that can be switched off at the click of a button when police are in position. The program has been effective, said Inspector Brian MacDonald, the officer in charge of the program. Abbotsford Police confirmed that car theft is down for a fourth straight week in the region.
“It keeps people looking over their shoulders,” said MacDonald.
In the 2014 video posted online Thursday by the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), a male driver in his mid-20s and two female passengers speed down a street in a bait car, searching for a McDonald’s drive-thru.
“We look good in this one, baby!” says a woman in the passenger seat. “I’m so excited right now. Like, my life just got so much better.”
They complain about the lack of tinted windows and pull up to the McDonald’s drive-thru, ordering two Junior Chickens, three McDoubles and a root beer.
“This is gangster,” says the woman before reaching to turn the radio on. Suddenly, the car stops running.
“Oh yeah, we’re in a bait car,” the driver says.
“Are we? You’re lying,” says the passenger.
“We should just get out,” the driver suggests. “Tell them our car died.”
But police swoop in quickly and the trio are arrested. Before she is placed under arrest, the woman in the passenger seat asks the driver for a kiss and they lock lips for a few seconds as police yell “Get out of the vehicle!”
The three were later convicted on charges of possession of stolen property.
The bait car program operated by IMPACT is the largest of its kind in North America. Though online message boards will debate ethics and liken the practice to entrapment, bait cars are completely legal in Canada, says MacDonald.
“No one is forcing them to do it. It’s there and if they decide to steal the car it’s at their own peril,” he told CTVNews.ca. If a police officer were to wear plain clothes and direct someone to steal a car, that would be different. More than baiting would-be criminals, the goal of the program is educational: lock your cars.