A cellphone left unsupervised on a patio table might seem like easy money to thieves – but under a new program by Vancouver police, it could also be a ticket to jail.
Over an eight-day period in late September and early October, the department launched a "bait electronics" program that saw officers leave devices out in coffee shops and track them after they were stolen.
Fourteen people were arrested as a result, and 10 have since been charged with theft.
Sgt. Jason Robillard said authorities are working to combat electronics thefts, but people should still be careful with their devices at coffee shops and restaurants.
"I encourage people to keep an eye on their belongings because someone else might be waiting for an opportunity to take them," Robillard said in a statement. "As for thieves, (police) will continue to use innovative tactics to fight property crime throughout the city. The next thing you steal might send you directly to jail."
All 10 of the people charged are Vancouver residents, according to police. They are David Bongaards, 54, Fardin Daneshvar Kalkhorani, 52, Andrew Dick, 45, James Dixon, 42, Ricardo Dos Santos, 44, Parker Grieve, 23, Nolan Havas, 43, Michael Irwin, 44, Edward Jules, 57, and David Unick, 30.
Charges are pending against the other four people nabbed during the project, police said.