By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Eagan Police Department is getting results by using a newer tool to catch criminals.

After learning about a number of car break-ins at an underground apartment complex in Eagan, police deployed what’s called a bait car.

“We’ll put everything from electronics, it could be currency, things that are serialized [inside the bait car],” Det. Kurt Bratulich said.

They put the bait car in areas where there’s been an increase in car break-ins or thefts. The car is generally left unlocked. That’s how police say many car burglaries happen. Just last week, Eagan set up the car at the Glen Pond apartments after a manager there reported numerous break-ins.

“The suspect walked through the underground garage, saw the items in plain view inside the bait car and ended up opening up the door and then taking those items,” Bratulich said.

Here’s how police knew to respond. When the suspect opened the door, it set off a contraption that sent officers on the case a message that said, “Car alarm, Glen Pond apartments.”

Police say they were there to catch the guy with the computer and computer box in his hands. They say the 42-year-old Eagan man admitted he stole them out of the bait car.

That’s not the only time it worked. In the last few months, the car was put at another nearby apartment complex. In that case, police say they arrested three men suspected of being involved in an auto-theft ring.

Police say the best way to avoid being a victim is to take everything out of the car with you or make sure it’s not in plain view. Also, make sure to lock your door. That’s especially true with the holiday shopping season upon us.

Jennifer Mayerle