By Kelly Ryan

CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — One local police department has seen a big jump in arrests after it implemented a program targeting thieves.

The theft reduction program began last year by the Citrus Heights Police Department. It has seen the number of arrests nearly triple this year. Police say this program is catching more criminals using fewer officers.

“We’ve seen an increase in property theft crime over the last couple of years.”

In an effort to combat that, Lt. Dave Gutierrez says the Citrus Heights police began a bait theft reduction program, targeting thieves with items they like to steal.

“They can be cars or trucks.”

Also packages on doorsteps, even construction equipment.

“We attempt to re-create those items in the form of bait.”

Bait that led to a recent arrest, and police say the bait program is not entrapment.

“The bike is actually locked up; the suspect has to approach the bike, defeat the lock in some way and ride away on the bike.”

Authorities are keeping to themselves exactly how the bait leads police to the criminals.

“I won’t go into the particulars of the technology, but the bait item really takes the place of a police officer as well, because it does the work for us.”

Work that officers hope leads would-be criminals to have second thoughts about stealing in and around the community.

“Ultimately our goal is for every thief in Citrus Heights to think every piece of property they’re getting ready to steal, is a bait item.”

Even with arrests up, police say this program is making the community safer, with thieves targeting their bait instead of residents.

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