For some time we have been aware that the police use various tactics to entice wanted criminals to a given area in order to arrest them. But as of
late, there has been an increase in what I consider police constructing crimes.
Take the NYPD's Operation Lucky Bag
, for instance. It was initially begun in
February 2006 and resulted in approximately 220 arrests. Most of those cases were dismissed by NYC prosecutors and the project appeared to be dead.
It has now been revamped and it is making a comeback.
For those unfamiliar, Operation Lucky Bag is a sort of police sting, in which the police leave valuables (i.e., wallets, cell phones, shopping bags)
lying around in public areas, such as the subway, and swoop in to arrest people who pick up those valuables. What is particularly interesting is that
there is ultimately no way for the police to know for sure if the people are merely being good Samaritans and picking up these valuables in order to
return them to the proper owners or take them to lost and found areas, or if those arrested actually intended to steal the property. Some of the
people arrested have no prior records and intended to use IDs to contact the proper owners and return their evidently lost property.
According to the legal system blog, Overlawyered.com
, police have taken
things even further by salting wallets with *live* American Express cards, which allows for them to charge people with grand larceny (which can carry
a 4 year sentence if convicted).
As far as I am concerned, this is completely absurd. Surely the NYPD has "real" crime with which to contend... So the question becomes, *why* are
they really doing this? To boost arrest numbers and precinct income? The first rising vibes of a police state frenzy?
What are your opinions on the matter? Is this just or unjust? Will it have any effect on crime rates (either a spike or a decline)? Do you agree or
disagree with the practice? Are the police going too far?
I just don't see the benefit (or the sanity) in this sort of behavior.
Some other links to get you up to speed:
* Police Sting Operation Lucky Bag Has Some Calling Entrapment
* NYPD says Operation Lucky Bag
stings have snared nearly 300 people
* Operation Lucky Bag: Is It Entrapment?
It also saw mention in the recent story about a sting in Columbus, Ohio, in which the police planted a topless sunbathing woman in the park who
enticed a firefighter to show her his penis and then arrested him after he did so
-- mention of OLB is on page 2). It should be noted that both the woman and
the firefighter were of the age of consent and that it is evidently not illegal to sunbathe topless in this park, though it is illegal to show off
anything else, so to speak.