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June 06, 2005

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» Bait car videos from Boing Boing
Many police departments around the world use "bait cars" -- vehicles with hidden video camera in the dashboard and remote control engine kill switches. WFMU's Beware of the Blog has linked to a couple of excellent bait car videos. Link (Thanks, mark hu... [Read More]

Comments

Cam

How is a bait car a sign of totalitarianism? It shouldn't matter who the property belongs to -- if you take something that isn't yours, it's stealing. Doesn't matter if someone rigged it to make it easier to catch the thief. Are you saying that car owners or the police have an obligation not to make it too hard to steal cars, because that would be too controlling of the populace? If local police can keep theft rates down, then normal people pay less insurance.

Will

Law enforcement uses bait cars as a way to lure out criminals, by providing an easy target. This is similar to law enforcement officials trolling for pedophiles by pretending to be young girls online, or posing as drug addicts looking to score from dealers. This doesn't seem scary if you aren't a pedophile, drug user, or car accessory thief. More interesting recent examples involve elaborate fake terrorist cells that exist for the purpose of 'recruiting' one or two individuals, who are then charged with being terrorists (ever read 1984?). When a government is constantly baiting its citizens in an effort to detect willingness to commit a crime that may not have been committed without the bait, that's totalitarianism. Are we there yet? Only if you think you might like a free car stereo, some drugs, etc...

Zed

Entrapment? Not even close. It's entrapment if an officer stands near the vehicle and says, "Hey, you should steal this car. Isn't it awesome? Come on, steal it!" To state that a 'Bait Car' program is totalitarian is ridiculously ignorant. Having had every car I've ever owned either broken into or stolen, I'm ecstatic to watch all of these punks go down. P.S. definition of entrapment

Paul Denton

"Only if you think you might like a free car stereo, some drugs, etc..."

Not seeing the downside, here. Criminals are punished; that they're being punished for committing a crime that was more easily detected by police doesn't seem to be relevant. Don't like it? Don't steal car stereos. Don't buy drugs. Don't proposition fourteen-year-old girls. Don't plan to commit acts of terrorism. It doesn't matter if the crime "may not have been committed without the bait," if it was. Crimes of convenience, perceived by the criminal as harmless, undetectable, and not setups, are crimes nonetheless. The authorities are only providing temptation - choosing whether or not to act upon it is still ultimately a personal responsibility.

André

Let me put it this way: in the old german army (pre-WWII) there was a really fascinating rule. If something was stolen from a soldier, the victim and the thieve both got punished. The thieve was punished for stealing, and the victim for not taking enough care for his own assets - and on this way "encouraging" his comrade to steal it.

d

the absolute best part of the videos is the fact that all of the would-be thieves are wearing their seat belts.

Drew

Sounds like you need to have your car stolen/vandalized to appreciate the need to put these slugs in cages.

e-head

There is another consequence that people are not thinking of ...

Thieves are not stupid, and now that the cat is out of the bad on these bait cars, they will probably simply change their tactic ... instead of stealing parked cars, they will resort to car-jacking's, which have the potential to be far more dangerous. After all, the mustang you carjack from a teenager is highly unlikely to be a bait car.

Station Manager Ken

I'm not concerned with whether this is totalitarianism or not, that's a boring, semantic argument. I thought the notion of Canada leading the US into a totalitarian future was amusing, which is the only reason I used that word.

I've also had my cars vandalized, almost stolen and have dealt with several attempted break-ins to buildings I own. I dont care. I dont want the government heading in this direction. If it's OK to put an expensive car stereo inside a bait car, is it also OK to leave a bag of money on the seat? How about ripping the steering column open to reveal the hotwire components?

I dont trust the government to make the decision on where to draw the line on any of this stuff. And I dont like the government using hidden cameras to enforce the law. Where do they draw the line with that?

If I got to make these decisions, I'd be all for it, believe you me. But since the government gets to call the shots and make the ethical decisions, I'm agin' it.

But I sure do love those videos.

-ken

Drew

"I've also had my cars vandalized, almost stolen and have dealt with several attempted break-ins to buildings I own. I dont care."

You don't care? Really???? I guess you need more than 'almost' and perhaps even lose your property to jolt you out of apathy.

The government doesn't care about us. Too many names, numbers, data. Usually the worst they do is give you a bad appraisal or keep misspelling your documents.

Live in the third world where corruption is rampant and chaos is the norm. Squatters will take your land by default or government crooks will expropriate it on a whim. You'd appreciate the our benign (oblivious) Big Brother.

chris

I consider entrapment a case where an undercover narc officer persuades someone to buy/sell drugs that wouldnt normally have done it. Setting up a bait car thing is great because it keeps a car from getting stolen, I see nothing wrong with that. Hell, put a wad of cash on a seat in an unlocked car and arrest anyone who opens the door and tries to pocket it! Tape that and make a show, cross between cops and a hidden video show! coming soon to Fox!

André

Really, i don't care if anyone breaks into or steals my car. Thats what insurances are there for. Using Bait Cars is the same principle as leaving some money unattended somewhere, just to catch the first poor fool who takes it away. You want to be safe? OK, nothing wrong with that. But then care for yourself instead of setting up traps for the foolish ones. The easier you make it for someone to break a law, the more criminals you'll get - but not more safety.

Drew

Ken,

Sorry if I seemed reactionary. I get your point about the ethical aspects, but I doubt that's factor in given our court system ('activist judges' v. Bush appointees), watchdog groups (ACLU), and the media (Fox v. Howard Stern). Our culture is too elastic to allow us to be coerced.

Zed

You can't compare a parked car to unattended money. Big difference. It's quite common to see parked cars. The normal person walking down the street is not going to look at a car with an expensive stero, or even an open steering column, and think to steal it. A bag of money on the seat might attract more than the common car thieves, but come on-- step off the slippery slope, eh Ken?

James

Andre,

Just because insurance takes care of that doesn't mean it's completely harmless. Other people's insurance rates go up if the insurance companies think that the area in which stuff is stolen from you is a high risk area. Then other innocent people get hurt for your ignorance. Think about it for a moment.

Station manager ken

It sounds like a lot of you have total faith that the government will be able to determine the exact point at which it steps over the line into entrapment. I don't share your confidence.

-ken

Bry

Huh...funny, I live in BC and I'm pretty sure I'm not being ruled by a totalitarian government.Our government may be a little bit of a drama queen at the moment, but "totalitarian" in the true sense of the word? Not at all. Canada kicks ass, eh...remember that.

Jack Carr

Some random reality checks:

Ken, no, I don't trust the gummint to "determine the exact point at which it steps over the line into entrapment", but neither does the gummint itself--it hires lawyers for that. Nothing hurts a law enforcement officer's or prosecutor's career more than getting a case thrown out on a legal technicality.

Andre: If you'd like to pay higher insurance premiums because you think that there's something wrong with deterring people from messing with your stuff, that's your lookout. Me, I've been known to occasionally leave stuff in my car that has sentimental value that can't be replaced with a check from State Farm. Also, your example from "the old german army" might--might, I say--have been appropriate for a soldier who is, after all, supposed to be able to defend him or herself and be vigilant on a more-or-less constant basis, but I'd rather not have to decide, on any given day, whether or not the random collection of junk in my car would possibly be attractive to some crackhead. The logic that says that smash-and-grab victims are to blame for not hiding their stuff isn't that far removed from saying that rape victims are asking for it by not wearing the equivalent of a burqa at all times.

e-head: Why couldn't the police put an undercover cop in a bait car?

Will: have you read 1984? I'm trying to remember the scene in which Big Brother busted Winston Smith for trying to rip the stereo out of the dashboard of O'Brian's car. It would be one thing if there really were no unattended, attractive cars with expensive gadgets in them save for bait cars, but that's simply not the case.

In general, I'm truly astonished that anyone would have a problem with a law-enforcement program that targets criminals exclusively--not people who might be tempted to try a joint or pay for the kind of sex act that the spouse won't do if it's constantly being offered to them, but people who are always on the prowl for the property of people who weren't "responsible" (that is, paranoid) enough. Way to blame the victim, folks.

larfus

After i fix all the things the thieves did to my car after it was stolen it will be sort of a bait car. I am installing a gps and will have control over shutting the car down and blowing the horn. Having something you work very hard for like a car to be stolen by some punks that cant afford bubble gum really sucks. I wish my city had this program.

Officer Jeff T

Attention internet debaters, you have entered a Bait Blog®. In partnership with the Society for a Sense of Humour® and the New Jersey eSWAT Squad® you have been baited into futile online debate. Charges include taking "Totalitarian Canadian Nightmare" too seriously and not being fluent in WFMU's hot hot style. Please step away from the keyboard.

RSB

As for the German army argument, that was the same culture that killed several million people just for being different than the "norm".

Wizzo

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Everyone knows thieves are the stupidest of the stupid, otherwise they'd make cash the easy way, with a JOB. Love these videos. Love watching numbskulls get what's coming to them. Can't believe anyone would be dumb enough to not think this is a great idea. Anyone who doesn't like this program is a dumbass car theif with no job.

André

Oh yeah, RSB - the ultimate "Nazi" argument. Sorry if i won't argue about that side of the story any further. All i tried to say was: if you give a human being the chance to commit a crime, especially if you make it easier than it should have to be, don't be surprised if they take the chance. Let me give you an example: last year i left my bycicle outside of my house. In the backyard. It wasn't secured because i was just too lazy to do so, and somebody took the chance - and my bycicle. Of course i am not happy about that, but its my fault too.

James, about the insurance argument: rates won't go up because i am ignorant. I am not ignorant to the fact that there are people out there who will try to steal my car, my stereo or whatever. Rates go up because the scums _simply do that_, no matter if i care about it or not. Even if i'd say "hang them on the highest branch of the tree!", it won't stop them.

Jack Carr, only referring to the rape argument: i think its quite a difference if i set up a trap in the consciousness that i *want* to attract scums, or if i just do what i feel like. The analogy would be a Bait Girl that walks down the street, yelling "Hey, i wear no undies. Look how sexy i am. Look, look, look."

Granted, i really do not know all and every detail how the police sets up their booby traps. I just think its horribly wrong to make it easier and easier for people to commit a crime.

Zed, you mentioned the difference between parked cars and unattended money. There may be a difference between an unlocked car with money on the seat and a locked car. But there is no difference between an unlocked car with money and an unlocked car with an expensive stereo inside. For the scum / crackhead / whatever its equally to a paycheck. Maybe a "normal" person won't steal the stereo, only the money. But thats really all the difference.

Station Manager Ken

Mark my words, people. British Columbia will become the gulag for our times!

Zed

Andre, I'm not sure what you're babbling on about. The bottom line is this: the goal of police departments that set up 'Bait Cars' is to catch people who are already out looking to steal cars or car stereos. They're not trying to lure the normal person in to commit theft. Why would they? I don't see how setting out a bait car 'makes it easy' for a 'human being' to commit a crime that otherwise wouldn't. It's probably not any easier to steal than any other normal car parked on the street or in a lot. We can keep splitting hairs about the locked or unlocked state of the vehicle or what's sitting on the seat, but that's silly.

As for your bike, I doubt it was stolen by someone who wouldn't normally steal a bike or some other piece of personal property. You made it easier for yours to get lifted by not locking it, but the thief would have moved on to find one somewhere else. You didn't create a thief by leaving your bike unlocked, you attracted one. That's all the police are doing.

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