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Citrus Heights brings back BAIT operation to deter thieves, protect property

While the program is not new and is deployed throughout the year, police say they see an uptick in illegal activity during the holidays.

CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. — The Citrus Heights Police Department has deployed a "BAIT" operation within the city to deter potential illegal activities and theft during the holiday season.

A BAIT operation works by officers placing high-value and monitored items in vehicles to act as bait to potential thieves or those looking to commit a crime. 

"It’s designed to reduce property theft in our community," said Seth Cimino, CHPD Detective Sergeant. "Our goal is to prevent property crimes in our community and to catch those who break the law by stealing from others."

This concept isn't new, nor is it only used by CHPD, but it makes a strong comeback during the holiday and shopping seasons.

"We’re not reinventing the wheel by any figure of the imagination," Cimino said. "[The operation is] year-round with focus on holidays because we do see an increase in potential criminal activity this time of year." 

CHPD Bait is deployed throughout #CitrusHeights! Thinking about stealing for the holiday season? 🤔 You never know what might be bait. 🚓 #wheresthebait #holidaysafety #notonourwatch

Posted by Citrus Heights PD on Saturday, November 19, 2022

Some BAIT items are placed within the business districts of the city where most people shop, but potential thieves should note this isn't the only area where this operation is active. 

Prosecution of stolen BAIT property is typically felony-based on its value, according to Cimino. Felony theft in California equates to stealing items worth $950 or more in most circumstances, according to California Penal Code 487

Potential criminals are warned by CHPD to reconsider when thinking about stealing as these bait items technically belong to the department and are being watched through "multiple technological methods." 

In 2018, more than 200 people had been arrested over two years through a similar operation in the city.

Police also encourage those visiting the city, shopping and enjoying time away from the car to lock vehicle doors and hide any valuable items from sight.

“Ultimately our goal is for folks to come to Citrus Heights, shop, have good time, enjoy themselves and enjoy their families in the business district,” Cimino said.

Watch more from ABC10: 82-year-old man carjacked by five people in Florida | Top 10

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