Car thieves planning to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors at this year's fair at the Pacific National Exhibition may find themselves stepping into a set trap -- the RCMP is planting bait cars throughout the area.

The Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), in cooperation with the Vancouver Police Department's bait car program, has been staking out the fair since 2007 - and they boast dramatic results.

According to IMPACT statistics, 31 vehicles were broken in to and 26 were stolen from the PNE area in 2006.

In contrast, just five break-ins and five thefts were reported in 2007, followed by five break-ins and six thefts in 2008.

This year, a new technology dubbed 'Bait Car Live' has been introduced, which lets dispatchers view any criminal activity happening within the bait cars instantly.

"We used to have to watch the tape and review afterwards," Sgt. Gord Elias said. "Now the dispatcher will be able to tell officers immediately what the person looks like, whether they're trying to steal something, and whether they've left the vehicle."

Cars of varying makes and models will be outfitted with the technology, Elias said, and some of them will have valuable property planted on the seats to attract thieves.

If a car thief tries to get away in a bait car, the engine is cut off - at which point it's up to the suspect to decide how to proceed.

"Should they decide they want to run, that's their choice," Elias said. "Then the dogs are released. They don't get far."

CTV News at the fair

Join CTV British Columbia at the 2009 PNE every day of the fair, where these fan favourite activities will be back for another year:

  • See if you can be a News Star
  • Have your photo taken at the CTV Snapshots booth
  • Meet and greet CTV personalities every day

For more information visit