A suspect, believed to be part of a criminal crew breaking into cars in the downtown and midtown area last spring, is seen stealing a backpack from a DTE 'bait car'. Police used this video and others to track down and arrest five suspects. Courtesy of DTE Security
Detroit — Through partnership with Wayne State police, DTE baits criminals.
Ever see a bike left unattended at Campus Martius? Ever see a car neglected, unlocked, looking as if it has been abandoned? That’s what they want you to think.
“They” being DTE — which provides bait cars and bikes and monitors them through surveillance cameras in downtown and Midtown — and Wayne State University Police Department which makes arrests.
Michael Lynch, head of security for DTE Energy, approached Wayne State University Police Chief Anthony Holt with the idea: DTE would set bait cars and bait bikes not only in Midtown but downtown as well. DTE would monitor them and reach out to Wayne State police, who would make an arrest.
“Chief Holt has guaranteed a 90-second response time,” Lynch said.
Some 60 convictions have resulted in just a three-year span, he said.
■Last year on April 1, a suspect was caught on surveillance tape loading a DTE bait bike into a getaway truck. The truck drives off, only to be caught and the suspects arrested by Wayne State police.
As police investigated the incident, they learned that the suspects “were also responsible for the theft of the university’s musical instruments,” according to a DTE security narrative of the incident. The instruments, and “several other” bikes that had been stolen and sold to pawn shops, were recovered.
■About 5:20 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2016, when a parolee was spotted on surveillance camera breaking into a bait car in Midtown and removing a laptop, money and headphones. The man had been free for only two days and had been in trouble for breaking and entering vehicles and breaking into homes. Wayne State police arrested the suspect minutes later.
While DTE contracts the services of Detroit police officers, its partnership with Wayne State police is informal, both agencies said, and operates on the theory that every time a would-be criminal takes the bait, it makes Detroit safer overall.
“There’s a very small amount of people doing bad things in large numbers,” Lynch said.
The relationship started in 2010, Holt said, and deepened in November when DTE sent over 20 volunteers to knock on doors and canvass the neighborhood with fliers after Wayne State Officer Collin Rose was fatally shot.
“The guy who breaks into a car or assaults somebody on Cass and Alexandrine is the same guy who commits an armed robbery downtown,” Holt said. “The bad guy doesn’t say, OK, I’m in Midtown, better not do nothing here.”