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Dallas police 'bait car' program suspended

Dallas police have suspended the "bait car" program while officials continue to investigate a fatal accident Monday that involved one of the vehicles that are intended to combat auto theft.

Chief David Kunkle on Tuesday announced the suspension.

The bait cars are used to lure vehicle thieves, who steal them and are then followed by police officers with on-board tracking devices.

Eddie Ramirez, 28, allegedly stole a 1994 Honda bait car Monday, which subsequently crashed into a car driven by 83-year-old Annie Reyes, police said.

Reyes' 2000 Honda was broadsided in the wreck, near the intersection of 12th Street and Montreal Avenue in the Oak Cliff area of southwest Dallas. She was pronounced dead at 2:15 p.m. at Methodist Medical Center, police said.

Officers were following the bait car, but there was no chase, said Sgt. Gil Cerda, police spokesman. He said Ramirez accelerated the car, when he saw a police car and then crashed into Reyes' car.

Officers reported that the car reached 75 mph, Cerda said.

Bait cars are also equipped with devices that can disable the engines by remote control at the request of officers in the field.

The officers had requested by radio that the bait car be disabled, Cerda said, but it was unclear if that happened before the crash.

He added that officials would try to determine that chronology while the bait car program was suspended.

"It's a temporary thing to make sure procedures were followed," Cerda said of the suspended program. "Chief Kunkle wants to make sure we had the best possible procedures in place.

"He still believes it's a good program."

Ramirez was arrested and is faces a murder charge Monday.

The charge tops a lengthy criminal history which includes convictions for evading arrest, burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a habitation, theft and possession of marijuana.

Ramirez was released in May after serving time for an earlier theft of a bait car, Cerda said.