A truck loaded with Nike Air Force 1 sneakers and Christian Louboutin shoes turned up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago last week. It was a “bait truck” parked by Norfolk Southern Railway police, with assistance from Chicago Police, to lure thieves to their arrest.
The truck traveled to more than one site in the predominantly black community on the city’s southwest side. Police arrested three people during the sting, which was intended to curb cargo theft in the area, according to Norfolk Southern.
An August 2 video shot by Charles Mckenzie of the crime prevention group God’s Gorillas captures residents confronting officers about the truck; it has made the rounds on Facebook, Instagram, Lipstick Alley, and the World Star Hip-Hop site.
Another video, shot by self-described “crime chaser” Martin G. Johnson, shows the bait truck at a different location the next day. In both videos, community members accuse officers of trying to set residents up to steal.
“In the recent past, individuals broke into parked freight containers in the Chicago area, stealing a range of consumer goods, to include guns and ammunition in transit,” Norfolk Southern spokesperson Susan Terpay said in an email to Vox. “Norfolk Southern 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. This week’s police operation was intended to directly combat such unacceptable thefts.”
Terpay also denied allegations from community activists that police left the bait truck open. Video surveillance shows a man using box cutters to break open the safety seal on the unmarked trailer, she said, and additional footage shows two men finding the boxes of shoes, which were not visible from the street.
A Chicago Police spokesperson said that the department only assisted with enforcement of the Norfolk Southern sting. He directed requests for comment to the railway company. The Chicago field office of the FBI told Vox it would not comment for this story. But over the past decade, law enforcement agencies in the US have increasingly turned to bait devices to reduce crime.
SOURCE: Nadra Nittle