SHARECOMMENTMORE

By Elizabeth Matthews

St. Louis County, MO (KSDK) - St. Louis County police are stepping up their bait car program to catch thieves who are after your pricey presents this holiday season. Officers are luring thieves into unlocked and sometimes running vehicles, catching their every move on video and audio surveillance.

Sometimes police will fill the backseat with high priced items and sit the bait car in front of a shopping mall. Other times they will just place it alongside a busy highway and entice those passing by like a scenario in June of last year.

"As the police officers are dispatched to actually apprehend the people in the car we already know what's going on," says St. Louis County Police Sergeant Thomas Naughton. "We know how many suspects are in the car and what their actions are prior to the officers making contact."

He says the bait cars are unlocked with the engine sometimes running and sometimes with the key in the ignition.

The goal is to capture the thieves, avoid high speed pursuits, even get the program some attention and it seems to be working.

"The people as soon as they steal the car they all talk to themselves and you know 'I hope this isn't a bait car, I hope this isn't a set up car,'" says Naughton.

St. Louis County police started in back in 2004 and the bait car program has had a 100 percent conviction rate.