Using Bait to Manufacture Crime

Bait car in Mesa, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Dan Weekly via Flickr.

Yesterday I came across a sign in a Scottsdale parking lot similar to the picture on the left, warning potential thieves that the unlocked car with clearly visible valuables is a police trap. The overstaffed police are bored and must manufacture crime to justify their jobs, and even though the country is drowning in debt, governments still refuse to fire expendable employees. Arizona suffers one of the worst real estate markets in the country, better only than Detroit and Las Vegas, yet they still waste money without an outcry from taxpayers!

The government in New York is even more creative. In Operation Lucky Bag, the police leave unattended purses on park benches in Central Park and arrest the samaritans who bring it to the “lost and found” department.

Many police departments are running “bait bike” programs complete with a hidden GPS to track the thieves, especially at universities. In Minnesota, it took them two years to make their first arrest. The university was already equipped with video surveillance to deter criminals, but the government reckoned that it was insufficient. The bait bike manufacturer explains why governments love them:

A bait bike is a relatively valuable bicycle equipped with a hidden tracking device and utilized by law enforcement to catch thieves. The value of the bicycle exceeds the minimum dollar amount required for felony classification, making the theft of a bait bike a rather serious offense.

Surely, manufacturing misdemeanors would be a waste. Only a felony will do!

You might tempted to conclude that bait crime is merely a consequence of the USA police state, but you would be wrong. Bait bikes are used in London, too, and Canadians are more creative than their USA counterparts. Have you ever heard anyone complain about the epidemic of trailer theft? Neither have I, but the state of British Columbia on the Pacific coast of Canada warns that if you Steal a Trailer — You’ll Go See the Jailer! Do you suppose that they caught a trailer thief in less than the two years required to stop a Minnesota bike thief? Wouldn’t a thief prefer to steal something smaller than a trailer such as jewelry or gold coins or illegal drugs?

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