Bait cars designed to reduce rising auto theft and insurance rates,
insurance and law enforcement officials say
The Department of Insurance now has a powerful new tool to use in its long standing
battle against auto theft and high insurance rates. The tool, known as a bait car,
is a motor vehicle fitted with state-of-the-art alarm and tracking equipment and
placed by local law enforcement in a high crime area. The vehicle is then monitored
at police headquarters 24-hours a day. When it is entered illegally, law enforcement
officers respond immediately and can easily track the thief, make an arrest and
retrieve the stolen vehicle.
"Baton Rouge and Shreveport were chosen to receive Louisiana's first bait vehicles,"
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said, "because FBI crime reports statistics
show that they are two of the highest auto theft areas in the state." Shreveport's
bait car was put in place last month.
Donelon's remarks came at a joint press conference of governmental, law enforcement,
NICB and insurance industry officials who are involved in initiating this latest
measure in Louisiana's fight against fraud. Additional vehicles are planned for
other cities as funding from the private sector becomes available.
The program is under the direct control by the Louisiana Auto Theft and Insurance
Fraud Prevention Authority (LATIFPA). Created by the Louisiana Legislature in 2004,
LATIFPA is a part of the Department of Insurance, and has the necessary legislative
authority to accept funding and other relevant contributions, such as motor vehicles,
to fulfill its mandate of reducing auto theft and insurance fraud throughout the
state. LATIFPA has joined similar programs in a number of other states in partnering
with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in this effort.
"The positive impact of a successful bait car program is more far reaching
than you might expect," Commissioner Donelon said. "Its obvious intent
is to reduce the high incidents of auto theft and the high cost of auto insurance
due to payment of theft claims."
In addition, publicity about such a program can actually deter a young person from
embarking on a life of crime. Research has shown that car theft is often a gateway
crime. Many young people who go on to other criminal activity take that first step
by going joy riding. If they are successful, they may be approached by car theft
rings who offer them a lot of money to go into a life of being a car thief.
Leaders of car theft rings are often on the lookout for cars to be quickly shipped
out of the nearest Louisiana port for sale in other countries or chopped up at local
"chop shop" and sold for parts. Stolen cars are also in great demand for
use in residential and commercial burglaries, robberies, check and credit-card fraud
schemes, identity theft activities, illegal drug trafficking and even drive-by shootings.
Participants joining Commissioner Donelon at today's press conference included:
Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff; Lt. Allen Carpenter, Director of the Louisiana
State Police Auto Theft Unit and Chairman of the LATIFPA Bait Vehicle Program Steering
Committee; Lt. Anthony Groger, Commander of the Baton Rouge Police Department Auto
Theft Division; Lt. Roger Tully and Sgt. Tim Wilkinson, BRPD Auto Theft Division;
Cleve Franklin of GEICO and O'Neal Weber of Farm Bureau, representing insurance
companies making significant contributions to the LATIFPA Bait Vehicle Program;
and Charlie Peters, Supervisory Special Agent of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.