State Patrol, bait cars and decals: City officials launch latest efforts to combat reckless driving, car thefts

NOW: State Patrol, bait cars and decals: City officials launch latest efforts to combat reckless driving, car thefts

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- While the city of Milwaukee has seen drops in car thefts and progress with reckless driving, new initiatives announced by law enforcement Thursday, July 21 are aimed at further bringing those crimes down.

A collaboration between Milwaukee police, Wisconsin State Patrol and Milwaukee Mayor's Office is targeting those issues with new efforts.

"The [Milwaukee Police] Department is willing to try new approaches and new techniques, even utilizing some effective ones that were in practice in the past and bringing those back, and I applaud those efforts," Mayor Cavalier Johnson told reporters during a news conference.

The first initiative is targeting high crash areas, with State Patrol personnel on state roads running through the city. Officials noted State Patrol officers can issue citations that carry larger fines than those issued by city police officers.

"The Department of Transportation has records about when crashes occur, when they occur, we call them heat maps," State Patrol Superintendent Tim Carnahan said. "We're going to use that data-driven approach."

The second initiative is the use of "bait cars" to try to catch would-be thieves.

"This is, again, pushing back where we're seeing a high rate of Kias and Hyundais being stolen in our city," Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said.

Kias and Hyundais account for 57% of stolen vehicles in Milwaukee, so MPD will use decoy or "bait" Kias and Hyundais to catch potential thieves. Police will be able to disable the vehicle if stolen and make an arrest.

The third effort is the revival of the CAT Program, which stands for Combat Auto Theft.

People can voluntarily participate in the program by getting CAT program decals and placing them on their cars. The decal indicates the owner of the vehicle is participating in the program and signals the owner does not intend to have the car driven between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. -- when most car thefts happen. If an officer sees a car with the decal being driven during those hours, the sticker is probable cause to pull the vehicle over.

"It takes all of us to be part of the solution here," Mayor Johnson said. "So you put that sticker on your car to combat auto theft, you're being a part of the solution."

"The bait car and the CAT Program is to give those who would be, or those who engage in car theft, think twice," Chief Norman said.

The CAT program started Thursday, July 21, and people wanting to participate can get a brochure and sticker at MPD district offices.

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