By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When a thief stole Nika Darab’s Honda SUV in Dallas Saturday night, she said she realized her laptop, headphones, and credit car were all still inside.

“Oh my God. I was on the floor. I was crying. It was terrible.”

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But detectives acted quickly, and Darab said when she heard they recovered her vehicle Monday morning, “I was just beyond.”

Around the same time Monday morning, officers told the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee they want to double the fleet of their bait cars aimed at catching car thieves and burglars.

(credit: CBS 11 News)

It’s all part of the department’s mobile surveillance program that began in 2010 and has since become the largest of its kind in the country.

Emily Davis, of DPD’s Operation Technology Unit said, “Our goal is to update the fleet, get some newer vehicles in and because we’re seeing so much success with it, we just want to make sure every district, every division gets the treatment they need, so we need more vehicles to do that.”

Officers showed council members a ten year old video of a burglar breaking into a bait car and stealing property left inside.

Davis said the program has come a long way. “A lot of the technology is new. A lot of the video is new. The cameras are new. The way we deploy the vehicles is new.”

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These cars have cameras with streaming video so they can be tracked 24-7, and items left inside by detectives also have tracking devices.

Sr. Cpl. Ken Strauss said, “The success of the program relies on the streaming video. It gives intelligence to the officers even before they arrive out there.”

“A lot of the people we do arrest because of these activations – a majority of them do have extensive criminal histories so they’ve done this before. And we’re making sure we have an air tight case against them,” said Davis.

So far this year, DPD says there’ve been 2,686 auto thefts so far this year, nearly 500 more than the 2,195 during same time period last year.

The number of burglary of motor vehicles has also increased to 3,827 so far this year from 3,459 during the same time frame last year.

DPD says 180 bait car activations last year led to 219 arrests.

So far this year, 59 of these activations have led to 74 arrests.

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