Combat Automobile Theft (C.A.T.) is a volunteer program which entails a more aggressive police response to auto thefts. C.A.T. authorizes investigative stops of participating vehicles and occupants for the purpose of determining whether or not the vehicle is stolen. The vehicle owner is voluntarily agreeing to allow law enforcement to stop the vehicle on the basis of one identifying decal affixed to the driver s side of the vehicle on the rear window.
Vehicle owners register their vehicles at the Bartow Police Department. The vehicle's registered owner must bring their vehicle registration and driver's license to the department. The owner must read the "C.A.T. CONSENT FORM." If the owner agrees to the conditions, they must sign the consent form. This certifies that the vehicle is not ordinarily operated between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Only one owner of the vehicle is required to sign, but when the owner signs, he/she is agreeing to inform any and all authorized operators of the conditions of the C A.T. program. The law enforcement representative will then issue a decal with a serial number. The owner must attach the decal to the inside of the vehicle's rear window, on the driver's left side, at the bottom left corner. The law enforcement representative will then staple a "C.A.T. INSTRUCTION SHEET/WITHDRAWAL FORM" to the vehicle registration form. The owner is responsible for re-attaching it to the new registration forms each year.
This affirmation provides police officers with REASONABLE SUSPICION that any person found operating a participating vehicle during these hours is in possession of the vehicle without the owner's consent. This justifies a stop of the vehicle and its occupants. The officer will approach your vehicle as if it was stolen, and the officer is instructed to enforce any violations of the law.
This program is authorized by Florida State (traffic) Statute 316.008 and by your county's or municipality's ordinance. Be aware that a law enforcement officer who serves in a jurisdiction that has no such ordinance, per F. S. S. 316.0 08, may still conduct a C.A. T. stop-detainment. This means that your vehicle is subject to a stop even if it is outside of the City of Bartow.
This is a volunteer program. If a registered vehicle is sold or the owners wish to withdraw from the program they must fill out the WITHDRAWAL FORM and mail it to the Bartow Police Department, and remove the C.A.T. decal from their car. There is no expiration date on enrollment in the C.A.T. program. Florida State Statute 316.008 implies that stating: "The owner of the motor vehicle is responsible for removing the decal when terminating participation, or when selling or otherwise transferring ownership of the vehicle."
Florida State Statute 316.00S also goes on to say, "No civil liabilities will arise from the actions of a law enforcement officer when stopping a vehicle with a yellow decal evidencing enrollment in the program when the driver is not enrolled in the program provided that the stop is made in accordance with the requirements of the "Combat Automobile Theft" program.
To enroll in the C.A.T. program if you are a resident, contact the Bartow Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit at (863) 534-5034. There is no cost to enroll in this program.