Cops hope crooks take the bait

FAYETTEVILLE Car thefts are up in Cumberland County. In 2007, more than 800 vehicles were stolen in Fayetteville. Many of them end up being sold and crushed for scrap metal, which drives your insurance rates through the roof.

"The cost of insurance is probably most often based on the number of claims that are filed. So if we can reduce auto theft claims, it gives the ability of the insurance companies to reduce their rates," explained Peter Van Patten with Nationwide Insurance.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is teaming up with Nationwide Insurance to put a dent in car thefts with bait cars. Crooks are caught on tape when they try to steal them. The program has cut car thefts in areas that use it by as much as 65 percent.

"When they open that door or they make any movement within the vehicle, that activates one of the many sensors on it. Then, this gives us the opportunity to know that the vehicle has been tampered with. We can them pull it up on the computer - watch what they're doing. And when it's the best opportune moment for us, when we have the officers in place that we need, we'll initiate a traffic stop, pull them over and take them to jail," said Lt. Matt Hurley.

By the fall, the sheriff's office will have a small fleet of bait cars on the road. The message to car thieves is clear: The next car you take may end up taking you to jail.

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