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If police set up a trap in order to either identify or even catch a thief (e.g. by means of a bait car, or a special invisible dye on bank notes), is the general term for such a ploy a "thieves trap"?

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What have you found on the internet? –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 1 '13 at 19:51

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I think you're looking for the term sting operation

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sting_operation

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According to Jona Lewie, an alternative term is "Police Trap." See myspace.com/jonalewieofficial/music/song/… –  Sven Yargs Nov 2 '13 at 1:22

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