BC’s auto crime police unit has that warning for thieves as officers try to cut down a rise in commercial vehicle thefts.
They’re also trumpeting the success of the Bait Car Program, now ten years old.
Standing in front of a bait bobcat and work van, Sgt. Gord Elias with IMPACT, the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team, says these and other commercial vehicles will be set up as bait across the province to try to catch thieves.
He says police noticed a rise in commercial and construction farm vehicle thefts last year.
“There was between 600 and 700 vehicles stolen in one year in those two categories here in British Columbia, and now you’ll probably understand why we’re adding these types of vehicles to our bait fleet,” explains Elias.
BC Attorney General and Justice Minister Shirley Bond says 210 commercial vehicles were stolen last year.
“Commercial vehicles power many BC communities forward,” added Bond. “The health and stability of many families depend on their work vehicles.”
“Each of our commercial [bait] vehicles will be armed with GPS technology and planted throughout the province, just waiting to be stolen by thieves. So thieves throughout British Columbia should listen carefully: If you’re thinking about breaking into a vehicle in British Columbia, we want you to know that just about any type of vehicle under the sun, there will be a very good chance that that is a bait vehicle,” Bond warned.
Sgt. Elias says the Bait Car Program has helped cut vehicle thefts 77% since 2003. It was launched in 2002 by the Vancouver Police Department to cut down on auto theft at the time and IMPACT is now funded by taxpayers through ICBC.
“The IMPACT budget is under three million dollars each year, and I can tell you that is a great return on investment on what auto theft was costing back in 2003,” he said. “Back in 2003, when auto crime was basically out of control here in British Columbia, we were spending, like, $98 million to repair just stolen vehicles…That has been reduced to just over $32 million in today’s figures.”
“We know that we have by far the largest bait car program in the worlds, hands down, here in British Columbia,” said Elias.
Police then showed what they call a highlight reel of bait car videos over the past decade, including arrests and takedowns.
“It’s a f***ing bait car! You idiot!” shouts one thief to his partner in one clip. In another, a young woman arrested with several other people pleads ignorance about their ride.
“I didn’t know it was stolen,” she says.
“As you can see, not the sharpest knives in the drawer,” said Elias to chuckles from police, government staff and reporters.
Police also released this year’s list of Top Ten Most Wanted car thieves. Number one is 43-year old Mark Winston Berry, wanted in Surrey for possessing stolen property.
Police say he has racked up 25 convictions since 1988.
Berry and several other people are considered dangerous and anyone who sees them is asked to call police.