The use of a “bait” semi truck allegedly loaded up with Nike shoes and left in low income neighborhoods has stirred up controversy and has many scrutinizing the methods of law enforcement agencies in Chicago.
The use of a bait truck was brought to light by two viral videos.
The first was captured by community activist Charles Mckenzie last week in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. In the video, you can see locals confronting police about the use of the bait truck, which was reportedly filled with Nike shoes.
The second video was filmed nearby the next day and shared by community member Martin G. Johnson. It featured the bait truck in a different location, and once, again, featured community members accusing police of setting up residents to steal. At one point in the video, an officer says, “No one touches it, no one gets locked up.”
Both videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in just a few days.
According to a reports from CBS Chicago, the bait trucks are being utilized in a joint operation conducted by the Chicago Police Department and Norfolk Southern Railroad. Norfolk Southern reports that freight theft is on the rise in the Chicago area and that the company “has the responsibility to ensure the freight we are transporting is safely delivered and does not pose a risk to the communities in which we operate.”
The videos have sparked outrage, with some community members accusing law enforcement of “over-policing” and of luring residents into crime that they might not normally commit.
Others say that the rise in cargo theft across the country could be justification for the use of bait trucks. The F.B.I. reports that $27 million worth of cargo was stolen in 2016 and that “often cargo theft offenses are part of larger criminal schemes and have been found to be components of organized crime rings, drug trafficking, and funding for terrorism.”