"Bait Cars" Catch Thieves In Act

A thief hops into a car and starts to drive off, thinking he's scored a big haul. He may think he's headed to a chop shop to sell the vehicle for parts.

He should think again.

Thanks to a new, hi-tech system being donated to more than an dozen United States police departments by the Allstate Insurance Company, the suspect is as good as caught, because he's actually in a "bait car."

Police put such cars in areas with high auto theft rates, to attract crooks. What the bad guys don't know is that police are watching and listening to their every move via remote video and audio as they get in and begin to drive away. Police then disable the car, lock the doors and windows, and set off the car's alarm, all from a distance. Then, they swoop in. The cars are also equipped with GPS tracking.

Authorities report that bait cars have made a significant dent in auto thefts.

On The Early Show Wednesday, Mike Fisher, head of Nashville's Auto Theft Task Force, "stole" a bait car with Harry Smith, to show viewers how it works:

to see the demonstration.

Bait cars have been evolving for more than ten years. Early on, there was only a simple cutoff switch activated with a remote switch in line of site of the vehicle.

Fisher says his unit has been using "bait" technology for four years, but with only recorded video, and has seen big drops in car theft rates where bait cars are placed. They'll be getting the newest technology soon.