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Crimewatch: APD looks to rejuvenate bait car program

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In Austin the number of cars being stolen is up. At the same time, more criminals are recognizing bait cars. showcases videos taken from inside bait cars from the greater Vancouver area.

"Put your hands on the steering wheel!"

Austin Police have had a bait car program. The program is catching thieves. Just not as many as before.

"Our fleet is getting a little older some of our vehicle are known now. It's a program you have to keep fresh," said APD Detective Aric Bilson.

Thieves recognizing bait cars comes at a time when auto thefts are up in Austin.

Even though auto thefts are down across the country, it's a different story here in Austin. Police say they have gone up 15 percent so far this year compared to last year. One major reason is human smugglers target Ford F250s.

Police say juveniles love to steal the 1990 to 2000 model Honda Accords. models.

"Gang members teaching each other how to steal these Hondas," said Bilson. "They're a little bit easier to steal."

Detective Bilson says Reagan Hill Drive, just off Cameron Road in northeast Austin is one of the hot spots for auto thefts right now.

"This has been a hot spot on and off dating back to when I worked patrol 12 years ago. An area where narcotics and prostitution has taken place," said Bilson.

Police say the top places for car thefts are large parking lots, like Barton Creek Mall and Southpark Meadows. Police say the shopping centers are favorites for the Ford F250 thieves. Apartment complexes are also vulnerable, especially between 2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. in the morning.

"Generally most of the complex tenants are asleep. Less traffic in and out," said Bilson.

The APD Auto Theft Unit is asking for car donations to replace the older bait cars, hoping the new bait cars will catch new and more thieves.

As police have said thousands of times before, don't make it easy for criminals, hide your belongings, lock your car doors, and take your keys.

Bait cars can be donated thro the Greater Austin Crime Commission.

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