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Brian Cain

Brian Cain

Brian Cain is a sergeant with the Holly Springs (Ga.) Police Department, and is known as the "Millennial cop" on Twitter. He has been in law enforcement since 2000. He hosts and produces a podcast for Millennials in law enforcement.

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Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Michael Bostic

Michael Bostic

Mike Bostic, of Raytheon Corp.'s Civil Communication Solutions group, specializes in open architecture, systems integration of communications and data programs. Mike spent 34 years with the LAPD. He managed IT and facility development, as well as the SWAT Board of Inquiry, which developed new command-and-control systems.

Bait Devices Help Law Enforcement Crack Down on Cellphone, Tablet Theft

Anti-theft programs using Assisted Patrol's tracking and evidence capture technology are achieving excellent results in some of America's largest cities.

April 13, 2015  |  by - Also by this author

Photo of theft suspects arrested in Dayton, Ohio, by officers using Assisted Patrol bait devices.
Photo of theft suspects arrested in Dayton, Ohio, by officers using Assisted Patrol bait devices.

One of the most difficult crimes for officers to investigate or prevent is the theft of small but valuable electronic items, such as smartphones, GPS systems, and tablets. Smartphone theft is particularly distressing for the public because so much personal information, including identity and financial data, is accessible to the thieves after smartphones have been stolen.

One of the tools that law enforcement agencies are using to fight this type of crime is a high-tech system called Assisted Patrol. Developed specifically to help law enforcement bait and capture thieves, the Assisted Patrol system consists of sensors that alert officers with texts when an item has been stolen, a built-in camera to take photos of the perpetrators, and a GPS tracker. Assisted Patrol also features security systems that prevent thieves from removing the SIM card or turning off the device.

Assisted Patrol operates on a customized smartphone or tablet. Officers deploy the system by leaving it in plain view or in a vehicle, purse, or bag. The device is activated and placed in an area where theft commonly occurs. If a thief steals the device, Assisted Patrol takes photos and sends a text message to monitoring officers. Assisted Patrol says its technology is suited for use in a variety of environments, including parking lots, inside malls, on residential streets, inside office buildings, at universities and schools, in gyms, in transit stations, and at cellphone stores.

A recent arrest by the Dayton (Ohio) Police Department shows the value of the system. An Assisted Patrol-equipped device was deployed in a vehicle in a public parking lot. A thief broke into the car, removed the device, and started to walk away. A nearby officer received a text alerting him to the theft. The suspect was captured with the device a block away from the parking lot less than five minutes after the theft. He pleaded guilty to the crime and was convicted.

Through its bait program using Assisted Patrol-equipped devices, Dayton arrested and convicted four individuals who had been arrested for a total of 45 felonies and theft from automobiles in the downtown precinct decreased by 80%for over one year. These results were achieved without stakeouts and with no overtime expenses.

The Dayton experience has spurred other agencies to start an Assisted Patrol bait program to combat smartphone and tablet theft. Last month the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department implemented a program in the city's Uptown Entertainment District.

The Charlotte program not only targets criminals, it also encourages the public to be "Good Samaritans." People who turn in unattended Assisted Patrol–equipped cellphones or tablets to the staff of restaurants or clubs or to the police receive a gift card. Police plan to use social media to highlight when people return the bait phones and get the gift cards.

This "Good Samaritan" received a gift card for turning in an Assisted Patrol-equipped device that she found on a Charlotte train.
This "Good Samaritan" received a gift card for turning in an Assisted Patrol-equipped device that she found on a Charlotte train.

Last year, 399 cellphones were stolen in Charlotte's Central Division, police told the Charlotte Observer, along with 117 tablets and laptops. CMPD statistics show that larcenies make up 67 percent of all crime in the Central Division, which encompasses the Uptown area. In the first week of operations, Charlotte arrested two theft suspects and gave gift cards to two Good Samaritans.

For more information on Assisted Patrol go to

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