DENVER (CBS4) – As police in Denver respond to more car break-ins in, officers are turning to a new strategy: decoy cars.

More than 4,000 cars have been broken into in the city since January. Breaking into a car is a Class 5 felony that carries a sentence of up to 3 years in prison.

Denver police have now set up decoy cars in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood that are stocked with devices that have GPS tracking technology. That is one of the worst-hit neighborhood when it comes to car theft this year.

Police say the devices in the cars will allow police to track and then arrest any criminal who tries to steal that car.

“And we’re going to do it in a strategic operation. So we’ll be in the neighborhood in an undercover capacity, waiting for somebody to come by and remove that (car),” Denver police’s Lt. Bob Wyckoff said. “And once it happens, we’ll be able to track it and hopefully make an arrest moments after it’s lifted from the vehicle.”

“If you are an offender, or if you know an offender, and if you choose to break into a car in this neighborhood, chances are, it’s one of our decoy cars,” Wyckoff said.

Police say the felony offense is one they are hoping to prevent also by educating children early before they ever commit a crime.

“We target toward middle schoolers,” DPD School Resource Officer Officer Chris Parker said. “Basically, the program says ‘Okay, if you steal a car this is how it’s going to affect you. This is how it’s going to affect your family and everything that you’re going to go through.’ ”

In the coming months, police will plant decoy cars throughout a much larger portion of the city.

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