Move over bait cars, Vancouver police have unveiled a new tool that investigators are using to nab thieves on the streets.
Police announced Thursday that they had arrested 14 people accused of stealing electronics from downtown coffee shops.
The arrests followed eight days of sting operations in September and October using “bait electronics” including cellphones, laptops, tablets and backpacks.
Vancouver police Sgt. Jason Robillard said the enforcement drive was targeted at coffee shops with patios or outdoor seating near Hastings and Georgia streets and Hastings and Richards streets.
“These were situations where we had left these electronic devices or backpacks or other personal items unattended in coffee shops, but close by,” he said.
“We had police officers very close to them that were pretending to be at this table with these devices, but got up momentarily to do something leaving them unoccupied.”
Once the items were stolen, officers tracked them and made arrests shortly afterward, Robillard said.
Robillard said police do not believe there is an organized ring of thieves targeting unsupervised electronics, but said that there is no shortage of unscrupulous people prepared to steal items given the opportunity.
He added that it only takes a second for a thief to pocket a cellphone, along with all of the personal information contained within.
“If you’re not watching your stuff in public, chances are someone else is,” he said.
Charges have been laid against the following 10 people, with charges pending against four others.
- David Bongaards, 54
- Fardin Daneshvar Kalkhorani, 52
- Andrew Dick, 45
- James Dixon, 42
- Ricardo Dos Santos, 44
- Parker Grieve, 23
- Nolan Havas, 43
- Michael Irwin, 44
- Edward Jules, 57
- David Unick, 30