Walnut Creek police sets up 'bait cars' for potential burglars

Walnut Creek police are setting out bait for would-be burglars and as expected, some are taking it.

It’s all part of an ongoing effort to crack down on the rising number of vehicle break ins in the city.

Shoppers often flock to downtown Walnut Creek, but if you’re shopping around for what’s not yours, there’s a good chance you’ll get caught, cuffed and thrown in jail. 

In a video Walnut Creek Police posted on its Facebook page, you see a man scoping out a bike, parked outside a local store that belongs to someone else.

Little does he know, it belongs to police and is being watched by an officer. Once he makes his move to steal it, an officer is right on his tail to make the arrest.

“We place a tracker inside of a bait item and that could be a purse, it could be a bag or it could be inside of a bike,” said Walnut Creek Police Lt. Tracie Reese. 

Over the weekend police nabbed Sean Stewart for taking the bait. This is just of about a dozen arrests Walnut Creek Police have made as part of their bait program.

“Let’s just say hypothetically the tracker is inside a purse. As soon as the purse is moved, the tracker notifies our dispatch center and we’re able to monitor it remotely and find where the item is going,” said Lt. Reese. 

Police say the bait vehicles are set out all over the city, in residential areas, parks or parking garages. 

“My father was parked in the garage back here by Bank Of America and he drives a convertible so they actually cut open the top, the cloth top and stole a bunch of his stuff,” said Christi Barnette of Concord. 

In 2018 there were 767 auto burglaries in Walnut Creek. So far this year there have been 335. Police say they’ve seen a steady increase over the last couple of years, but that this program is a proactive approach.

“I definitely think that’s a good way to deter crime and it creates the illusion that you don’t know what car is what for someone who might want to do that,” said Jonathan Smith of Walnut Creek.