British Columbia

RCMP reveal they've been working with Amazon to catch thieves with bait packages

Prince George RCMP revealed Wednesday they've been working with Amazon since last January to catch mail thieves with bait packages.

Prince George is the first city in Canada to do this, says Const. Benbow

Const. Benbow contacted Amazon last January to start the bait package operation. (Submitted by Prince George RCMP)

Prince George RCMP revealed Wednesday they've been working with Amazon since last January to catch mail thieves with bait packages. 

The packages look like regular Amazon deliveries, even with items inside, but have GPS trackers hidden in them.

Const. Brent Benbow, who regularly shops on Amazon himself, got the idea to work with the e-commerce behemoth after hearing multiple reports of packages being stolen from people's doorsteps.

"I sent them an email, and from there till now, it's been a great partnership and they've been super helpful," he told CBC's Betsy Trumpener.

Amazon bait packages with GPS trackers in them are being used by the Prince George RCMP to catch mail thieves. (Submitted by Prince George RCMP)

Benbow saw an article about how Amazon had a similar operation in New Jersey and thought it could be an effective tactic to catch thieves in the interior B.C. city.

"This is the first in Canada actually. We're the first ones to partner up with Amazon and we're the first ones to deploy their boxes, so it's fairly unique that way," he said.

"Canada Post has a couple projects that they run on their end, but we're the first ones to dive into this and are hoping that this exposure increases partnerships for them across Canada."

Bait package operation

So far, RCMP have delivered over 50 bait packages to various residential doorsteps and mailboxes throughout the city.

When one is taken, an activation is sent to the police and they are able to track live where it's going. 

To date, there have been three activations, with one leading to the arrest of a 37-year-old male Prince George resident. The investigation has gone to the B.C. Prosecution Service for consideration of charges, the RCMP said in an emailed statement. 

To find people to take part in the operation, Benbow reached out to people that have been affected by mail theft in the past. So far, he has about 42 contacts that are open to having bait packages set up on their properties.

"People are pretty pumped," he said. "They like to be part of a change where we're trying to prevent something rather [than] waiting for it to happen."

Property crime has been an ongoing issue in Prince George, and Benbow wants residents to know that the RCMP are aware of it. 

"We understand the issues and the struggles that people in Prince George have had and we're taking one of these projects on to hopefully show them that we know what's going on, we know what's happening and we're going to prevent it."

With files from Betsy Trumpener and Daybreak North

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