LONDON, OH (Toledo News Now) – The Ohio Attorney General and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation have set up four bait cars to help catch holiday criminals in the act.
Police say thieves are always on the lookout for gifts and valuables left in vehicles during the holiday season.
"This is the time of year when the thieves think they've got easy picking," said Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine. "They go from car to car, they see some presents in one, and they just break in. They knock out the window, or if it's not locked they just open the door."
It's an easy mistake for shoppers to make. A purse left in the car for a quick trip into a store can disappear just as quickly.
So the Attorney General and Bureau of Criminal Investigation set up bait cars for local law enforcement agencies to use to help catch thieves.
The cars look like any normal car in a parking lot, but they have alarms and hidden cameras inside and out. The video is fed to laptops, desktops, or even police smart phones. If a criminal is caught on camera stealing from the bait car, a nearby officer will move in to make an arrest.
"We just want to send a message to these thieves," Dewine said. "That if you think you can get by with this, you never know, the Attorney General's bait car may be the one you're breaking into."
So far, the bait cars in Ohio have led to seven convictions. Dewine said they'll be ramping up their efforts this holiday season. Twelve different agencies statewide have requested access to a bait car.