Officials Admit ‘Mistake’ in Using Decoy Cop Car Near The Rep

It's a common practice to use old, gutted patrol cars as mechanical scarecrows, according to San Jose Police Department spokesman Officer Albert Morales. But police are pretty miffed that they weren't notified about a plan to park a defunct cruiser near the San Jose Repertory Theater for about a week.

The goal was to ward off vandals from the shuttered venue, but reports suggest the car could have been easily stolen. NBC Bay Area first reported the story Monday.

Apparently, the city's public works department plucked the decommissioned cruiser and stationed it on Third Street, next to the theater after it closed earlier this summer due to bankruptcy. Police were upset about the move, particularly since an extra key was left inside the entire time.

"There was a key hidden inside, but it was placed in a location that police would know where to look, but the rest of us would not," city spokesman Dave Vossbrink told San Jose Inside.

Public Works Director Dave Sykes accepted responsibility for his staff, which made the decision without consulting police. "It was a teachable moment, but no one was 'written up,'" Vossbrink said.

Part of the misstep may have occured because the city has brought on so many new hires, he added.

"We have a number of people who are new to their positions and that may have led to some miscommunication," Vossbrink said. "Everyone agrees that coordination should have happened, that it should have happened better. It does reinforce the importance of asking the right questions. ... They’re aware of the fact that it was a mistake and will be mindful of that going forward."

The idea for the decoy cruiser came from a meeting the public works department held shortly after the theater's closure in June. People were pitching ideas like hiring private security, brightening lights in the area and making sure the building stays locked up to keep it safe and secure.

"One of those ideas out of that conversation was to have an old police car outside," Vossbrink said. "We want to keep the building safe until we find a new tenant."


  1. Why not …. The dept has a inoperative chief running the police dept. he’s checked out since deciding to retire in Jan and bail the sinking ship

  2. The key was on the headliner next to the dome light in clear view! VOSSBRINK you are just another liar at city hall.

  3. Well, now everybody knows about the decoy and the fact that a key is hidden inside. Secret to the public no more. No more decoy. DUH.

  4. Vossbrink? Have you no shame at all? To utter such absurdities makes you as reputable as the people you hope to deceive.

  5. Can one imagine if the victim of a violent crime, being pursued by her attacker, ran to this police car for help, thinking a police officer may be inside to help her?? While Vossbrink is this was a “mistake” and a “teachable moment”, it was at the least grossly irresponsible, one that could have resulted in tragedy for a victim, and huge liability for the city. It is inconceivable that this is being downplayed as an inadvertent mistake by the Mayor’s spokesman. This was also a complete slap in the face to the Police Chief and his staff. Funny how this stunt was apparently ok’d when a well connected entity downtown dropped a dime to his downtown councilmember friend or buddy in the Public Works Department, when one would think the east side of San Jose would be more deserving of this, no matter how misguided it was. Of course, everyone at city hall and this mayor will get a free pass, as happens time and time again.

  6. “…The idea for the decoy cruiser came from a meeting the public works department held shortly after the theater’s closure in June. People were pitching ideas like hiring private security, brightening lights in the area and making sure the building stays locked up to keep it safe and secure…”

    In the interest of full disclosure from the City and SJI ( and trust me I know those are mutually exclusive) Was James Reber (SJI contributor, Non-Profit “entrepreneur,” human siphon of tax dollars, and founder of the Rep) involved in those meetings?

  7. How soon before the ACLU chimes in about this offensive use of psychological warfare by the Police State? After all, those jackbooted thugs at the SJPD must be up to something. Remember, they already own a terror drone!

    The intent here is obvious: scatter enough empty police cars in targeted neighborhoods that criminals are duped into obeying the law for a while (despite the lack of real police patrol), until they eventually become so conditioned to them being empty they cease checking their behavior and return to doing the things that make them such a treasure in our diverse city: gang graffiti, prostitution, theft, robbery, drive-by shootings, littering their homework assignments in the street, etc. Then, after about ten years of joyful lawlessness they’ll fall right into the trap: the cars will suddenly be occupied by police officers, some of the hundreds of new cops that Reed and Liccardo insist have been on the way since 2012.

    A cunning scheme to be sure, one that will allow the cops to factually deny the covert targeting of any groups disproportionately nabbed. By employing the wildlife hides technique used in nature photography the police will have effectively made their marked fleet all but invisible to the wildlife in certain areas of San Jose.

    Someone alert the NAACP extortionists and local La Raza morons to this outrage, this latest example of the most racist form of police entrapment: the invitation to self-expression. Certainly by now, even those slow wits have figured out that nothing has put as many of their people behind bars as has their freedom to just be themselves.

    • Do you actually consider yourself to be a member of some master race? Arian, perhaps?

      Why are you afraid to post under your real name?

  8. Michael Hurley,

    You seem quite comfortable sharing your suspicions about my background without a shred of support. Nowhere in my post did I claim or hint membership in a master race. Likewise, nothing in my post has a thing to do with Arianism (a religious belief) or Aryans (whatever you think they may be). Thus, the real question should be, why do you embarrass yourself by posting under, presumably, your real name?

    By the way, if you have some evidence that black and brown criminals are not responsible for an outrageous percentage of the worst kinds of street crimes, or that the crimes they commit do not accurately reflect their character and values, feel free to share it. Judging by your post you seem to think that for someone to notice, comment, or complain about the realities of street crime is evidence of that person being white, as if no people of other races would dare voice such outrage. Why? Do you think they don’t object and suffer from crime, or they lack the ability to see who it is committing the crimes? Maybe you think them too compassionate and forgiving to comment in such a typical white manner. I don’t know, you did the profiling, why don’t you explain.

  9. Another example of the incompetent people leading the City. Truly remarkable. Sykes and Vossbrink claiming it was a teachable moment and blaming new staff. These guys should all be let go.

  10. Who in their right mind would assume that they could just take a police car without asking the police department if that’s OK? More evidence that the city has zero respect for the police department and the police department letting this behavior occur. The SJPD needs to stand up for itself.

    And I love the fact that the other idea was to hire “private security.” Police officers apparently never seem to be the answer. I guess empty police cars will have to substitute.

    Next time the city should consult David Copperfield rather than the chief of police. Anyway, it’s just an illusion. Welcome to San Jose.

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