GREENSBORO, N.C. — Cars that police would love thieves to go after are now on the streets in Greensboro.
Nationwide Insurance has provided city police several bait cars that they’ll be able to monitor electronically.
Police said they have around two dozen that are among the most targeted cars locally.
Police said in other cities, bait cars have helped reduce the amount of car break-ins by about 50 percent.
The cars will be filled with commonly taken items like purses and electronics.
“We’re not encouraging anyone to steal anything, we’re giving them the opportunity,” said M.E. Hamilton, an officer with the Greensboro Police Department.
Hamilton said it has taken more than one year to set up the equipment and get permission to be able to use these cars to target thieves.
The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office also uses bait cars to catch thieves in the act.
The county has seen a rash of car break-ins this summer. Since June, 58 thefts from cars have been reported to the Sheriff’s Office. That is far more than the Sheriff’s Office investigated in all of 2012.
Those reports started In the Forest Oaks neighborhood. Even with the recent arrest of three men for crimes in that area, car break-ins continue along main roads like Huffine Mill Road and McLeansville Road.
“Typically we don’t have nearly as many car break-ins and the frustrating thing is a majority of the time the cars are left unlocked,” said Lt. Daryl Loftis with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.
Loftis said locking your vehicle, even if it’s parked in a garage, can help prevent a car break-in. Cars parked under a light also help deter thieves.
The Sheriff’s Office said those who continue to leave valuable items in plain sight will only make it easier for thieves.
But if those thieves hit a bait car, authorities will know when to strike.
“You never know if you’re hitting an innocent victim’s car or hitting one of our bait vehicles, it’s hard to say,” said Loftis.