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Bait trailers are newest police tactic to bust thieves

Police are rolling out new bait trailers equipped with hidden GPS beacons so officers can track and bust thieves who steal them.

The new tactic aims to cut down the theft of more than 500 trailers stolen in B.C. each year.

That theft rate has held steady, while the successful bait car program is credited with helping dramatically chop auto theft rates by 65 per cent since 2003.

The number of vehicles stolen last year fell 22 per cent from 2009. Thefts from within vehicles dropped 15 per cent.

"A host of different types of trailers are now armed with hidden GPS technology and will be planted throughout British Columbia just waiting to be stolen," said Sgt. Gord Elias of the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT).

"They will look just like any other trailer and will come in many makes, models, sizes and colours," he said.

"We're going to move them around and change them up wherever they're needed."

Elias said stolen trailers, which can range from cargo or utility trailers to recreational ones, are often sold privately through ads and via websites.

Manufactured trailers must have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), Elias said, and any buyer who encounters a trailer without one and suspects it's stolen should contact police.

IMPACT also released a video showing the arrest last summer of thieves who stole a bait trailer and truck and were tracked by police helicopter through Langley and Surrey, until they were captured in Cloverdale.

Since the bait car program was launched in 2002, it has expanded to include motorcycles, ATVs, boats and snowmobiles as well.

IMPACT also issued its annual top 10 wanted list of suspected car thieves.

Topping the list is Xiao Sean Zhang, 25, wanted by Vancouver police on multiple theft and other warrants. Zhang is accused of finding cars for sale on craigslist and then stealing them during test drives. He was the driver in a 2006 hit-and-run in downtown Vancouver that killed a vacationing doctor from New Zealand.

Christopher Paul Black, second on the list, is dubbed the "puppy-punching car thief" because officers spotted him punching a defenseless dog in the head just before being arrested in Chilliwack in an SUV stolen from a Coquitlam dealership.

The list includes three men wanted by Surrey RCMP: 46-year-old James Harold Mattie, considered violent and wanted on a Canada-wide warrant; Christopher Henry Horkey, 26, described as a car thief with an appetite for high-end cars like Jaguars; and Mark Adam Forrest, 25, alleged to use stolen cars to commit residential break-ins.

Michael Allan  DeYoung, 24, is wanted by New Westminster Police for breach of parole four days after release from federal prison on a robbery conviction. He's also considered dangerous.

 

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