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Apr-01-2006 18:49printcomments

Salem Police Detective Wins Auto Theft Investigator of the Year

Detective Mike Bethers "bait car" program contributed to a three percent reduction in auto thefts in Salem between 2004 and 2005

bait car art
Art courtesy: Vancouver BC Police

(SALEM) - Salem police detective Mike Bethers has received the Auto Theft Investigator of the Year award.

The award is presented by the Western States Auto Theft Investigators (WSATI) and is given to the officer, detective or person that has done the most to further the effort to reduce auto thefts for the State of Oregon.

In 2004, Detective Mike Bethers began researching the current Salem Police Bait Car program and obtained federal grant money and donations from State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance and National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) to purchase cars and equipment.

For this preliminary work and the quality of his work as a Community Response Team Detective, Detective Bethers received the Police Officer of the Year award for the Salem Police Department.

Bait vehicles look like any other car and cannot be identified as being a "police car."

Detective Bethers has installed GPS tracking devices and alarm systems in the vehicles that allow the vehicles to be located once they are stolen by car thieves.

Officers are dispatched once the "bait cars" are stolen and are able to follow and arrest those inside the vehicles. WSATI member and NICB investigator Dale Gesner, who nominated Detective Bethers stated, "Detectives Bethers was instrumental in implementing a bait vehicle program that is by far the best in the Northwest...This is the bait vehicle program that all of the other agencies strive for." To date, the Salem Police Department has made 15 arrests related to thieves either breaking into or stealing the "bait cars."

Word has gotten out to car thieves who are now leary of stealing the bait cars.

Because of this, the vehicles are constantly being rotated and changed so the thieves never know which vehicle is a citizen vehicle and which may be a police bait vehicle.

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