'Decoy cars' baited with valuables catching car burglars in Walnut Creek

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Walnut Creek police are using decoy cars to "catch a thief."

The decoys are cars with electronics and luxury goods out in full view with GPS trackers. This year they are tripling their use of the decoys.

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Inside one decoy vehicle Friday, Walnut Creek police showed ABC7 news the bait on the front floor-- a Louis Vuitton purse.

Walnut creek police Lieutenant James Laughter said, "Within the vehicles we place items of value. We will place backpacks, satchels, suitcases with iPads and laptops and high value items in the bag and within the bag is a GPS unit."

When a window is broken or a door is open on a decoy car an alert goes out to dispatch. When the valuables are moved, the GPS tracker starts working and an arrest can be made.

Laughter said "we are consistently seeing 800 to 900 auto burglaries a year. We've seen a rise in the last few years. It's not just a Walnut Creek issue. It's a regional issue."

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The baited decoy vehicles are monitored 24/7. Police say thieves often target commercial parking lots along North Main as well as the city's parking garages, even metered spots.

Walnut Creek police say they will add even more decoy vehicles to their fleet in 2020.

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