Building a better mousetrap: Hi-tech cars deter thieves
Somewhere in a metropolis near you, an unassuming vehicle sits and waits. The vehicle is a bait car, left by the police, in a large-scale effort to halt the rise of would-be criminals in your area. One city instituting such a policy is Minneapolis and by most accounts, it's a success.
The vehicles are left in urban areas that are frequently the scene of vehicle break-ins and thefts. The car itself is a rolling sound stage, filled with both video and audio surveillance. Along with recording all the action inside and outside the vehicle, they've equipped their decoy with a GPS unit, a remote engine-kill switch and a host of other electronics to keep tabs on the location and condition of the their vehicle.
Eventually, someone yields to the temptation and find themselves in the back of a squad car. Not quite the ride they were hoping to score.
The focus on stolen vehicles is at the urging of not only the public, but also the insurance industry. Some figures suggest that the average motorist pays a premium upwards of $200-300 per year, to cover the cost of break-ins to themselves and other drivers. Since approximately one-third of all auto insurance claims are the result of theft, it's a problem that almost all drivers have a stake in and proactive programs like this in Minneapolis may be the beginning of a sea change in certain areas.
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