Schadenfreude? Alas, no. Anthropology.

by Yule Heibel on June 3, 2005

At the beginning of the year, my neighbourhood association held its annual general meeting, during which a police officer gleefully announced that Victoria was introducing the Bait Car program. We get a fair amount of what I call “stupid crime”: stolen or vandalised cars, break-ins based on opportunity (someone leaves their doors open while they go upstairs to take a shower, etc.), etc. Bait Cars are specially equipped cars which have been in use on the Lower Mainland (Vancouver area) for some time, and now they’re on Vancouver Island (Victoria), too. These cars are equipped with concealed video and audio recording devices, they are wired to be controlled remotely (including shutting off the engine, and, I believe, locking the doors), and they transmit a location signal to police. They’re literally mousetraps for dumb car thieves. Thieves know they exist, but the cops keep switching the “look” and the thieves keep falling into the traps. If you want to see how they work, click on and check out the videos — actual recordings of thieves, typically joyriding, before they finally realise, “oh-oh, this is a bait car!” One of the funniest is probably So Much for Going Home, because the dialogue is hilariously dumb — along the lines of “possession is nine tenths of the law.” Seriously, though, the key thing these videos demonstrate is how irredeemably stupid these guys are — and, yes, they’re all guys, and they’re all white, too. To see the thief in Oh No! is to despair — this guy is as thick as a brick, except he can swear a blue streak. He spent 39 days in jail for stealing the car. The Prayer is another case of showing a perpetrator who should be roundly punished just for being terminally stupid. I mean, I couldn’t even feel any Schadenfreude while watching: the thieves are so sadly deficient, it’s impossible to feel gleefully superior to them or to delight in their downfall. And so the videos become an exercise in anthropology, I guess.

Human beings are certainly interesting, if unintelligent. I wonder what the plants make of us? There must be potted palms smarter than these guys…

note: the videos only seem to work on Windows, not on Apple. 🙁

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