In 2010, Minnesotans lost almost 8,400 cars to auto theft, totaling more than $21.3 million in stolen assets. This week Commissioner Mike Rothman and the Department of Commerce unveiled Minnesota’s plan to combat this problem by granting metro area law enforcement with $3.8 million towards new theft-prevention technology.
This extension of the Minnesota's Auto Theft Prevention Grant Program will provide metro police departments with new “bait cars” equipped with hidden cameras and audio recording to help police officers catch criminals in the act. "There are audio recordings of them in the act of doing it, along with a video recording," Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren said. "Then you can actually shut the vehicle down and apprehend them while they're still in the vehicle, and provide all of that information to our jurors and to our prosecution to hold people accountable.”
Part of the new funding will also go towards purchasing new high-tech cameras, designed to photograph license plate numbers each time a car passes and run the number through several databases. This system will help law enforcement officials recognize not only stolen vehicles but also those operated by drivers with outstanding warrants and suspended licenses.
Commissioner Rothman and the Department of Commerce recognize the hardship of a stolen vehicle and the extent of the damage car theft can cause. "Every year, auto theft impacts the lives and finances of thousands of Minnesotans, and steals from wallets of every consumer in the form of higher insurance premiums," said Commissioner Rothman.
The new technologies provided to Minnesota police officers by this grant will help put a stop to car thieves, limiting the costs these criminals place on Minnesotans and helping to create a safer, more crime-free Minnesota.