Decoy cars join in fight against crime


Beitish Police have unveiled their latest weapon in the fight against crime - a decoy car which can be remotely monitored, immobilised and the doors locked . . . with thieves still inside.

The scheme is being tested in Harlow, Essex, and could be copied by other forces. Originally used in Minneapolis in the US, it is said to have had a major impact in cutting vehicle crime.

"Basically, without giving away too much detail, we have technical equipment which can be put inside any car that will enable us to monitor it and stop it in a controlled manner via a computer in our control room," says Supt John Mauger.

"As soon as the car is broken into, the control room is alerted and we are able to monitor its movement. This system would then give us the means to stop it, immobilise it and lock all the doors at any time we wished to.

"Practically, what would happen is that a patrol car would be alerted to keep visual contact with the car and it would be stopped at a time when it is safe to do so - preferably when it is already stationary.

"The thieves will have no idea that they are being monitored because to all intents and purposes the car looks like any other car.

"The system also enables us to film the thieves as they drive which will give us further valuable evidence."

He adds: "The equipment costs about £2,500 (€3,950) and it can be quickly moved from car to car or fitted in vehicles which we think may be a particular target.

"We will have a budget to buy cars which we will use as decoys. The beauty of it is a thief will not know how many cars, for example, in a car park are decoys. So it should act as a major deterrent."