Let the crooks come to you: Dallas police set up bait houses

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on May 17, 2012 at 10:42 PM

DALLAS - Normally police don’t want people breaking into homes, but Dallas police hope they do. At least, into their new bait houses.

They hope it helps crime victims like Margaret Dunkins, who came home to find someone had ripped out part of her garage to steal her things.

It shattered her sense of security.

"You do feel violated," Dunkins said. "You don't even feel safe at home anymore when things like this happen."

There are thousands of burglaries in Dallas every year. Only five percent of them are ever solved.

Officer Jeff Jacobs responds to many burglaries.

“It’s a business, like our business," he said. "They plan on it."

Officers are constantly on the lookout for burglars, but police can't be everywhere.

That's why the Dallas Police Department is trying to use technology to catch crooks.

Lt. Catrina Shead heads the effort.

"Once these appliances move, the tracker goes off," Shead said.

It's called a bait house, similar to a bait car. When burglars break in, the video cameras turn on and police can monitor the thieves live.

“We will have GPS tracking placed on the inside of appliances, such as refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers in the house," Shead said.

Police will send officers immediately out to catch up with the suspects.

According to the DPD, the goal is not only to catch suspects, but find out where the stolen goods are being fenced. They want to know who is buying the stolen property.

The bait houses are exiting empty homes. Dallas police work with the owners to equip them with cameras and trackers. The equipment is donated by groups like Safer Dallas Better Dallas, so no public funds are used.

The department has one bait house up and running. It's been in operation for two months, but no arrests have been made yet.

They plan to equip more homes in the higher-crime areas.

That all sounds good to Margaret Dunkins, who wants the thieves who stole from her to be caught.

"They need to catch them and throw them under the jail house," she said.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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