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Auto Thieves Caught Red-handed

November 20, 2002  | 

An increasing number of auto thieves in the San Diego, Calif., area are finding themselves caught in the act, thanks to wired bait cars parked throughout the city by the San Diego police.

A typical bait car varies by model, but it has an electronic tracking device known as GlobalGuard attached to its undercarriage, which emits a silent signal to the police command center once the car is broken into. The car is then tracked by satellite and located by use of color-coded street maps, allowing police officers to be dispatched right to its location.

Once an officer catches up with the stolen car and the cruiser's emergency lights and siren are activated, the stolen car's engine is killed by remote control, often leaving thieves so surprised they have no time to think about fleeing.

Still, should a thief try to run, the San Diego police have the capability to lock the bait car's doors and trap the thief inside. However, that part of the system has yet to be implemented, since officers see no immediate need for it; so far they have reached the stolen cars before the thieves manage to take off.

The cost of the system is $595 per car, and GlobalGuard is available to the public. According to a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article, all cars are recovered within 15 minutes of being snatched.

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