A year after truTV's Bait Car rolled into town to catch San Franciscans on camera “stealing” vehicles, more than half of the resulting criminal cases have been dismissed, the public defender's office says.
We wrote a cover story on the police department's money-making gig with the reality TV channel earlier this year — the show paid the cops more than $200,000 in overtime and gave the SFPD two fancy bait cars for its fleet in return for police staging the operation on camera. At that time, the cops told us they arrested 32 people.
While the show paints all of the culprits as real car thieves, the judicial system has come to a very different conclusion. First, the district attorney charged the defendants with joyriding charges — which has a lower burden of proof than grand theft auto cases. To date, of the 18 cases handled by the Public Defender's Office, 11 have been dismissed, raising questions about the reality show's public safety payoff.