‘Bait Car’ Video Shows Arrests of Would-Be Thieves

by Katie Pyzyk July 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm 6,674 76 Comments

The Arlington County Police Department has released video showing would-be thieves getting arrested after getting into a police bait car.

According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, Arlington was the first jurisdiction in the D.C. metro to start using bait cars, back in 2002. Since its inception, the bait car program has helped police levy 200 criminal charges, with a 100 percent conviction rate.

When a potential thief enters the car, it triggers an alarm that signals police, and the hidden camera starts recording. Sternbeck said most of the individuals are startled when approached by an arresting officer, and are usually compliant.

Police target certain parts of the county based on crime rates, and use vehicles popular with car thieves. The program is fully funded through insurance companies.

The youngest individual police have picked up in Arlington for allegedly attempting to steal a vehicle was 10-years-old. The youngest caught allegedly attempting to steal items from inside the vehicle was 7-years-old.

  • South Walter Reed

    There’s a lot of divisiveness on ArlNow, but I think we can all agree that the bait car rules.

    • that guy

      absolutely. Freaking… AWESOME…

      • drax

        Yep, fun to watch criminals go down, like on Cops.

        • nunya

          we need an Arlington episode of Cops!

          • JamesE

            All footage would be people getting tased outside of Mr. Days.

          • LVGuy

            There was a Cops in Clarendon. Shot right next to Mr. Days (or whatever was there in 2003).

          • nom de guerre

            Or people exposing themselves and/or fapping outside of 7-11.

          • Dezlboy

            Hey, Not on free Slurpy Day!

        • Marie Antoinette

          Mon Dieu! Drax and I agree? eh, +1 for Drax???



    • Ashton Heights

      Nope, bait cars attract even more Marylanders to come here. We a moat, an electric fence and sharks.

      • A. Danger Powers

        Correction: Sharks with laser beams attached to their heads.

        • chris

          or Snakeheads with lazer beams attached to their heads….

  • Captain Obvious

    I am OBSESSED with the tv show “Bait Car.” This is possibly the greatest story ever to run on ARLnow.com.

  • CW

    Good. So they “target parts of the county based on crime rates” for bait cars. This is a very good job.

    Why can’t they apply the same logic to having cops on the beat in those same areas? What about the crime rates on our trails?

    • drax

      I think in general the police do focus more on high crime areas.

      • CW

        But I do not perceive them to have a visible presence as would aid with deterrence.

        Of course, this is just my anecdotal experience based on hundreds of hours of observation, so what do I know, I’m sure this will be dismissed as an opinion or outlier.

        • VaGurl

          what are your ideas of “high crime areas”? and if you are in these high crime areas and see crime going on, instead of remarking on how appalling it is there isn’t a cop around, how about picking up the phone and dialing 911 🙂

          • CW

            When did I say I saw crime going on? All I said was that there is a lack of police presence for the purposes of deterrence, which is a sentiment I have reiterated consistently. Even in areas which are not currently high crime, a visible police presence can be quite beneficial in keeping them that way.

          • VaGurl

            your comment was “Good. So they “target parts of the county based on crime rates” for bait cars. This is a very good job.

            Why can’t they apply the same logic to having cops on the beat in those same areas?”

            “But I do not perceive them to have a visible presence as would aid with deterrence.”

            you are saying they dont have a visible presence that would aid in deterrence.

            my question is – how do you know this? are you aware of what high crime areas are in Arlington? If so, are you sitting there 24/7 to see what the “presence” is? cops go to where the calls are – which would by definition be the “high crime areas”.

            Just pointing out problems in your statements.

          • CW

            Of course, you conveniently left out the parts of my statements where I, in anticipation of trolls like you, intentionally addressed preemptively your assertion that I am not there 24/7 by stating that I have hundreds of hours of experience being out and about in the County (as we all do) and have not witnessed a visible police presence in areas where crime has occurred historically or could potentially occur – on trails, at the mall, in crowded areas like Clarendon, etc.

            You must have a reading deficiency because I clearly qualify my statements as being my personal experience and yet you continue on with the same old “you are not omniscient so thus your experience and perception have no value” argument.

          • Fredericksburg White Guy

            CW – “have not witnessed a visible police presence in areas where crime has occurred historically” – you mean the vacant/abandoned police cars that never move (and are the ONLY “visible” presence for the most part) don’t act as a deterrent? I am SHOCKED. SHOCKED I tell you. I guarantee you the entrance and exit ramps from I-66 are crime-free, though.

        • drax

          You spend hundreds of hours in high-crime areas, CW? Hmmm.

        • CW2

          CW, have you contacted the Arlington police about a particular area/street that you believe is troublesome? Because I have done so, and I outlined a number of incidents that occurred in a particular spot, and they subsequently focused on that area for a while.

          It honestly made a difference, in that there was less suspicious activity. I didn’t always see increased police patrols, but the captain assured me they were making the rounds based on my input, and I truly believe that was the case.

          If you contact the police with information/suggestions on a problem area, I think you’ll get a good response. The system can work.

          • CW

            This is great to hear and I am appreciative that they responded to your concerns.

            What I am talking about is more of a high-level policy change, one that focuses more on patrolling, presence, and deterrence through increased visibility. This would include beat cops on foot where necessary, publicity campaigns, etc. While we enjoy a relatively low crime rate, I do think that ACPD could be more proactive in keeping it that way.

          • VaGurl

            im not a troll – im pointing out you make no sense. unless thats what you think a troll does. (personally i think your comment is way more troll-like than mine).

            and im commenting on this thread because oddly im not allowed to reply to the thread where you called me a troll.

          • CW

            Right, by stating that ACPD could increase their presence in high-risk areas to create greater visibility, I make no sense. Got it.

          • VaGurl

            for below comment, that’s not your original statement. you wanted to know why they weren’t applying “high crime area” logic to visibility. to which my statement was that you dont know they dont do that.

            SN: why cant i comment on your comments anymore? theres no “reply” for your comments. 🙁

            guess God is trying to tell me something… 🙂 whats the saying? arguing online is like ….. so whatever, going back to something that actually matters now.

          • CW

            re: Replying – our arguing has rearched the highest level of hierarchy that the forum supports. You have to “reply” to your comment one level above and all subsequent comments will be in line. You did it correctly.

            I still maintain that they are not doing much in the way of visibility because they are not very visible. That is all. This really isn’t supposed to be such a divisive position. I’m just saying that some more patrols and some more beat cops could maybe help things a bit.

          • VaGurl

            see? if you had said it like that in the first place i wouldn’t have even replied to the original posting.

          • CW

            Sorry, I get a little cranky by this point in the day 🙂

          • YoBimbo

            The answer is, “No.”

          • Larchmont

            Money talks and cops won’t walk without it. I’m fine if the county does not spend more money on more patrols at this time.

          • Enough already

            I think what you chose to do was great, obviously not common sense for most people. Police can’t be everywhere, all the time. Some people just complaint about the police to complaint and have never done anything themselves to help the community. There are just too many others, who would rather complaint about not having a cop on every corner and when there is one, complaint that there is a cop on every corner. Anyways, nice post

          • CW

            Really? You think people just complain for the sake of complaining? Really, that’s it, huh? We’ve had a growing number of sexual assaults, many in broad daylight, and some concerned citizens are suggesting that perhaps an increased police presence and visibility campaign would be warranted to counter this. No, that’s surely not doing anything to help the community; nothing like that would happen in a democratic society. Besides, what do you know about what anyone does when they’re not posting on here? How do you know that certainly people don’t do anything to help the community? I can’t believe I’m even responding to this.

            Also, your grammar is terrible and you need writing lessons.

    • William

      How do you know they aren’t applying this logic?

    • Southeast Ben

      Insurance companies don’t fund police salaries (directly speaking anyway).

      • Southeast Ben

        My comment was suppose to be a reply for CW.

        “Why can’t they apply the same logic to having cops on the beat in those same areas? What about the crime rates on our trails?”

  • blah

    i can watch these videos all day long

  • KalashniKEV

    It would be even better if they could just push a button and it would explode!

    • Newsy Mom


    • Marie Antoinette

      Love it.

    • … even better if they could just push a button and all the doors & windows would lock & the car would fill up with water, just leaving an inch at the top for air. yeah.

      • JamesE

        *fill up with bees

  • gone baby gone

    hey luiz, dey stealing ju car man.

  • Chris B

    I LOVE THIS VIDEO! HAHAHA, suckers! Serves them right.

  • Daughtry

    they are jammin’ to Daughtry…sign of bad things to come.

    • What I love About Arlington

      Things I thought were interesting about this vid:

      – Most of the cops seen/heard seemed like the kind of people I want protecting me
      – P.C. Arlington Co/Police make an effort to show racial diversity in their compilation vid – way to go!!!
      – Not impressed with the chick who screamed at the would-be thief . . . she seems a little high-strung/trigger happy. This is life, not a tv show.
      – ditto the guy who yells, “Get your f*****g hands in the air!!!” So we got a few hotheads on the force, still, good thing to be doing
      – I thought Daughtry was hot on American Idol

      • Brian

        Yeah, I thought this video was great except for the woman who started yelling. As the article states, most people caught this way are compliant and turn themselves in. Her reaction way exceeded the situation. Not that I can really talk, as I’ve never arrested anyone. I just don’t like people abusing their authority.

    • Dude Where’s My Car

      programming the radio in the bait car to play Daughtry could be considered “cruel and unusual punishment” 😉

  • JohnB2

    Too awesome!

  • Ashton Heights

    Why are there no women in this video? Are they not important enough or something?

    • Funny

      Well, there was the female officer at 4:27 who was the only person in any of the videos actually flipping out.

      • KalashniKEV

        This video is VIBRANT.

  • Pow

    Why can’t people like this be sentenced to death? The are completely useless to society and serve no purpose.

    • drax

      Because serving a purpose to society is the only point of living.

      • KalashniKEV

        Yup. That’s b’cause!

      • Pow

        I guess you’re one of the guys I see on the median asking for a handout. Good for you.

    • agreed

      like old people and babies

      • CA

        Babies are future tax payers. But I agree on the old people.

    • WeiQiang

      there goes Congress

      • Skeeter

        Biden stole my Trans Am

  • Jerry Seinfeld

    In the second clip, does anyone else think it looks like the passenger is a rent-a-cop? Seems like there’s a patch on his chest for affixing a badge and low-budget epaulettes on both shoulders (~2:57), and a half-circle logo of some sort on his right arm (~3:07-3:11). The lighting’s no good, so maybe I’m wrong.

  • dude

    you mean this isn’t a zip car officer?

  • tumblebum

    Pretty close to a new record on an article where good police work was involved. it only took 9 replies before the complaining began. Not top of the heap but not bad at all.

  • Arlingtonian

    Pretty cool. But when will the HD and 3D versions be released?

  • Alejandro

    I hope these thieves rot in hell. My car was stolen in 2002 right before they implemented this program. Since it was not consider an emergency, it took the police two hours to get to my house to file a report. Lost have a day of work, $40 in a taxi, plus another $175 to get it out of the inpound lot in DC where my car was found. They never caught the thieves, but I was able to get my car back. I’m glad Arlington police is doing something about it and I would guarantee that most of these thieves come from DC or Oxon Hill.


      I’ll one-up you here. I had my car stolen from the Springfield Metro (actually the Home Depot parking lot there) back in 2000. The cops said that they found the car in SE DC. They knew it wasn’t from that neighborhood because it had vanity tags from my college, and nobody in that neighborhood goes to college (a bit classist, but I guess they were right). The cops were able to lift tons of prints but couldn’t do anything about it because the courts protect the criminals so well that they can delay their court hearings indefinitely, which is a total waste of money for the system to continue prosecuting and their cases are always dropped as a result. The cop said that it made him furious, because he sees this happen weekly, and rarely are the kids that do it brought to justice. They just keep on stealin’.

      TL;DR: I love Bait Cars!! Keep ’em coming!


  • Curious George

    Left side of the bell curve in action.

    From the reaction of the miscreants I doubt that was the first time they had been arrested.

    Give them a trial and then shoot them.

  • DeportEmAll

    Deport ’em all.

    • let’s

      deport you….what makes you think any of thse people are immigrants?

  • Chuck

    Here is a nice video of an Arlington County cop caught on video parking in a NO PARKING spot with his lights on while he pops in/out of 7-11. Sweet justice.


  • Glen Carlyn NOW

    “Police target certain parts of the county based on crime rates, and use vehicles popular with car thieves.”

    So it’s not a Toyota Prius parked in Cherrydale? Shocking.

    I love Bait Car.

  • Arlingtonian

    “Yo we gotta get outta Virginia!” Yes, you do.

    Kudos to ACPD for a job well done. A friend of mine lives it Columbia Heights…he watched guys outside of his apartment building break into numerous cars, steal GPS systems, etc. Despite numerous 911 calls from himself and neighbors, it took MPD 20 minutes to show up, presumably because of the high call volume and limited resources. The perps had enough time to bag up their loot, stop to smoke a joint, and get away. Sometimes we take our great law enforcement agencies in Arlington, Falls Church, etc. for granted.

    • KalashniKEV

      Too many people assume 911 is some kind of “Beam me up, Scotty” lifeline. That would have been too much for me to watch, I might have done some community service that day.

      • South Arl

        I’ve had to call 911 three times since I moved to Arlington. All three times they arrived within a minute or two.

      • Scott

        HAHA – I concur. Of course, the benefit of being in Virginia is respect for the 2nd Amendment…always a nice backup when you happen upon a crime in progress.


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