Franklin police use 'bait vehicles' to catch carjackers

Posted at 6:10 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-06 19:10:13-04

Police in Franklin are making new efforts to address what they call an epidemic of stolen vehicles.

Since June, 22 cars have been stolen from the Milwaukee suburb. Ever since early August, police have been placing bait vehicles equipped with GPS on the streets to catch carjackers in action.

"It's very frustrating and it's very disturbing to our communities," said Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva.

Oliva said 38 cars have been swiped from Franklin so far in 2017. That’s more than double the number of vehicles stolen last year.
"This is purely residential, single family," said Police Captain Kevin Magno.

Magno said all of this year’s car thefts have been crimes of opportunity with their doors unlocked. Many of the vehicles were left with either keys or garage door openers inside.

"It's all over the board, sometimes it's SUVs other times it's passenger cars," Magno said.

Just last week that was the case when two young men took a Franklin couple’s SUV on a joy ride for over 90 miles before they were caught.

"They're basically targeting vehicles that are left unlocked outside," Magno said.

Unfortunately, that vehicle was just one of six stolen cars retrieved this year. It’s an aggravating statistic that has police offering an open invite to catch the criminals. Bait vehicles have been placed in undisclosed neighborhoods. They are left unlocked with keys in the ignition, waiting for a carjacker to get lured in so GPS can track them town.
"If a vehicle with GPS is moved it triggers a software program that is on our computer systems here in dispatch and on the phones of some supervisors so immediately we will track that vehicle and have officers respond," said Oliva.  

Oliva said the easiest way to prevent this from happening to you is to keep all of your doors locked. All 38 vehicles stolen from Franklin this year were left unlocked.