BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- BART police are using an unusual looking mobile device to keep an eye on criminals who break into cars and steal bikes at the transit stations. It's not exactly new, but it is getting new attention.
It's eye-catching for sure. Many BART passengers have been taking time to look up at it. But what transit officials really hope is that the criminals notice it.
It definitely stands out.
"It looks a little bit (like) 'Star Wars,'" said one BART rider.
It's 25 feet tall, making those on the ground feel a bit small.
"It's a pretty imposing," said Berkeley resident Carmen Borg.
And it's a bit mysterious with its dark windows.
"Well, it's intimidating," said Albany resident Fe Mamaril.
BART police say that's the point -- to intimidate criminals and hopefully scare them away.
"Oh I think it's a great idea," said Richmond resident Sophia Wisdom. "I think, you know, we need the protection. You know, people need to stop doing what they are doing. And we want to be safe."
BART police say the tower gives them a good view of station parking lots so they can see a crime in progress and call it in. The tower is mobile; they tow it to different BART stations that are experiencing an issue with crime.
Right now, the tower is in North Berkeley where police have noticed an uptick in bike thefts.
"That sounds like an excellent idea," said Berkeley resident Norm Vance. "Seems very efficient; put them where the problems are, where they are having difficulties. And you've got an eye in the sky, I like it."
But not everyone is embracing the odd looking police tool.
"It seems excessive to me," Borg said. "Like a lot of, you know, police presence and overuse of police power these days."
But police say it does appear to work. And just about everyone we met said they welcome the extra security.
"For parking purposes and vandalism on the cars, it's a good idea," Mamaril said.
The windows are tinted, so one cannot see if an officer is in there. Officials say that's the point -- they don't have to have someone in there. They hope the tower itself is a deterrent.
BART authorities say a grant covered the tower's $90,000 cost.