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Police dangle bait

An auto-theft prevention program already in use in other parts of the province is coming to West Kootenay.
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Deputy police chief Henry Paivarinta

An auto-theft prevention program already in use in other parts of the province is coming to West Kootenay.

The Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team’s bait car program will get its official Nelson launch in June, and a van advertising the program is already making rounds in the city.

The program was launched in the Lower Mainland in 2004. Police-owned vehicles equipped with GPS systems and hidden on-board video and audio systems are placed in strategic locations around a community, in hopes they will be stolen. Should someone decide to make off with the car, its engine can be disabled remotely, and police have taped evidence of the theft. IMPACT credits the program with decreasing the number of car thefts in the area by 65 per cent.

Deputy police chief Henry Paivarinta says while Nelson has far fewer auto thefts per year (less than 10 in 2010 and just under 20 in 2009), he’s hoping the program will get residents thinking, “You know what? When I lock my vehicle don’t leave stuff in plain sight, lock my vehicle at all times.”

“Car thieves, they’re opportunists,” he says. “So if you leave your vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition, you can expect it to be stolen.”

Paivarinta says most stolen cars in Nelson are used for joyriding, and are recovered with minimal damage — but every so often the police do find a stolen vehicle burned out and abandoned.

“We live in a nice town and a lot of people think that we’re crime free, but we get the same kind of crimes as the Lower Mainland, just less frequently,” he adds.

While the bait car program was always intended to be provincial (it’s already in place in the Okanagan), it was new police chief and former IMPACT member Wayne Holland who pushed to bring bait to Nelson.

“He’s seen the tremendous results they’ve had on the Lower Mainland, and decided it was time to bring it to West Kootenay,” says Paivarinta.

While the Nelson Police Department declined to say what types of vehicles will be used in Nelson, the Bait program has just expanded to include both cars and trailers.