Bait Car (TV series)

Last updated
Bait Car
Bait Car logo.png
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes135
ProducerKKI Productions
Running time30 minutes
Original release
Network Court TV (now truTV)
ReleaseAugust 6, 2007 (2007-08-06) 
October 23, 2012 (2012-10-23)

Bait Car is an American television series that aired on the truTV network. The show depicted police officers targeting criminals with a high-tech bait car, rigged with hidden cameras and radio trackers. Footage is shown from in-car cameras, police car dashcams, and film crews with the police officers. The show holds a TV-14 rating due to strong language, although most of the profanity is censored.


Production and broadcast history

The Bait Car series premiered on August 6, 2007, on Court TV, now truTV. Season two of the show premiered in August 2009 on truTV. Season three premiered in June 2010. The first three seasons of the show were primarily shot in Los Angeles and New Orleans. [1]

Bait Car began airing a fourth season in December 2010 on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. EST. Shot in San Francisco, this fourth season was produced by KKI Productions. A 2007 Honda Accord was used as the bait car. [1] Season 5 aired from January 2012 to October 2012. The show was not renewed for a sixth season.

Reruns of Bait Car continue to air on truTV, and as of January 2015, on the Justice Network—a newly formed OTA digital subchannel.


In this crime reality series, teams of undercover officers drive the bait car to areas with high rates of auto theft, where they park it and leave it unattended with the engine running. The idea is that would-be car thieves will hop in and drive away. Unbeknownst to the criminals, a hidden camera and a radio tracker have been placed on the dashboard, and a police force is watching their every move. The thief is then tracked down and arrested. [2]

Bait Car operations typically call for about a dozen officers on duty, and the cases are often charged as misdemeanors. [1] Chicago police officers stage the car in a different manner, allowing offenders to be charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle, burglary, or both. Chicago Police Officers do not leave the car running with the keys in the ignition, or with the doors open. In rare instances, teams suspend the bait car operations to pursue a vehicle that was already stolen.

The show was created by production company Departure Films, based out of New York, NY.


Opponents of Bait Car expressed concern that the show merely creates crime and might even be considered entrapment.

Those in law enforcement argue that the show is a legitimate and effective way to catch auto thieves. "John Q Public doesn't climb into bait cars," a Florida officer states. "We are talking about people who have been arrested time and time again. Everybody we've arrested with a bait car has had an extensive criminal record." [3]

During season 5, LA prosecutors dropped charges against Keenen Alex after TV footage showed Detective Anthony Shapiro failed to read him a Miranda warning. Detective Shapiro asked Alex, "You watch TV. You know your rights and all that?". [4]

Alabama Birmingham Birmingham Police Department
California Los Angeles County
San Bernardino
San Francisco
California Highway Patrol
Criminal Investigations Unit
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
San Francisco Police Department
Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention
Georgia Atlanta Atlanta Police Department
Illinois Chicago Chicago Police Department
Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans Police Department
Nevada Las Vegas Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Vehicle Investigations Project for Enforcement and Recovery
Texas Houston Houston Police Department
Harris County Sheriff's Office
Washington Seattle
King County Sheriff's Office
Snohomish County

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  1. 1 2 3 Roberts, Chris. "'Bait Car' comes to San Francisco". SF Weekly.
  2. "Bait Car on truTV: Real car thieves caught in the act". truTV.
  3. "Bait Car: Driven to Steal?". truTV.
  4. "'Bait Car' sting turns tables on detective". Los Angeles Times. May 8, 2012.