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(NYT)   NYPD roll out new improved plan to arrest people who attempt to return lost wallets   ( nytimes.com) divider line
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14175 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Nov 2007 at 6:55 PM (9 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2007-11-28 03:03:34 PM  
That's crappy. I found a purse in a shopping cart outside of a CVS pharmacy one time. There were no other cars in the area. I opened it out of curiosity, saw that there was normal purse-stuff in there (ie. wallet, keys, etc) and gave it to the cashier inside. Does that make me a felon?
 
2007-11-28 03:11:50 PM  
You know, if i was in a McDonalds, and was pretty sure that someone had left their wallet or purse unattended and left, and there were 8 cops in the restaurant with me, I would NOT take it to a cop.

The cop is just gonna tell me to let the store deal with it. Because when you realize that you left your wallet in a McDonalds, the first thing you do is call McDonalds. Not the cops. Who would just ask you if you'd called McDonalds.
 
2007-11-28 04:03:40 PM  
Thank god the NYPD are busy cracking down on the real crooks.
 
2007-11-28 04:08:41 PM  
Was I the only one who couldn't read the stupid registration article? It's also possible that the rest of you are just jumping to conclusions without reading it.
 
2007-11-28 04:47:54 PM  
TFA, for those who can't read it:

Dragnet That Ensnares Good Samaritans, Too
By JIM DWYER
Published: November 28, 2007

At first, an epidemic of absent-mindedness seemed to have broken out.

One purse was found just sitting on a display shelf in the shoe department at Macy's. Another one turned up downstairs, in Macy's Cellar. Yet another rested on a chair in a Midtown McDonald's, left by a woman who had stepped into the restroom.

In fact, all three items had been planted by police officers in plainclothes during the previous six weeks. And the three people who picked them up were arrested, and now face indictment on charges that could land them in state prison.

Nine months ago, a similar police decoy program called Operation Lucky Bag was effectively shut down by prosecutors and judges who were concerned that it was sweeping up the civic-minded alongside those bent on larceny. Shopping bags, backpacks and purses were left around the subway system, then stealthily watched by undercover officers. They arrested anyone who took the items and walked past a police officer in uniform without reporting the discovery.

Now, a new version of the operation has started to catch people in public places outside the subways, and at much higher stakes, Criminal Court records show.

Unlike the initial program, in which the props were worth at most a few hundred dollars, the bags are now salted with real American Express cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department.

Because the theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E felony, those convicted could face sentences of up to four years. The charges in the first round of Operation Lucky Bag were nearly all petty larceny, a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

OVER the years, decoy operations have proved to be very effective in flushing out criminals lurking in public places. They also have a history of misfires involving innocent people who stumbled into a piece of theater in the routine drama of city life.

When Lucky Bag began in February 2006, among its first 220 arrests were about 100 people who had prior charges and convictions. Police officials said those arrests helped drive down crime in the subways by about 13 percent.

However, more than half of those 220 involved people with no prior criminal record. In dismissing one case, a Brooklyn judge noted that the law gives people 10 days to turn in property they find, and suggested the city had enough real crime for the police to fight without any need to provide fresh temptations. The penal law also does not require that found items be turned over to a police officer. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office began to dismiss Lucky Bag charges.

"We spoke with N.Y.P.D.'s legal division and the transit bureau so they would understand the essentials needed for prosecution, because the early arrests were being made on faulty premises," said Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the office. "There must be evidence that the taker did not intend to return the property."

Sneaky behavior - like trying to hide a found wallet, or slipping money out and leaving a purse behind - could show that the person meant to steal the valuables. Those instructions were added to a prosecutors' handbook.

In February, Aquarius Cheers, a 31-year-old Manhattan man who said he was on a shopping expedition with his wife, spotted a Verizon shopping bag with a cellphone and iPod inside at the 59th Street station of the No. 1 train.

As he was looking in the bag, a train arrived. Mr. Cheers said he and his wife boarded, rushed past a uniformed officer, bringing along the bag with the intention of looking for a receipt. Undercover officers then grabbed him. After his case was reported by NY1, the prosecutors vacated the charges.

A spokesman for the Police Department took questions yesterday about the revived decoy operations, but did not provide any answers.

So far, lawyers at the Legal Aid Society have identified four pending felony cases arising from the decoys. The police complaints describe suspicious behavior. For instance, after a 50-year-old man picked up the purse left in the Macy's shoe department, he put it in a shoe box and carried it to the other side of the store, a complaint said. Then he took the wallet out of the purse, put it in his pocket, and left the shoe box and purse behind, according to the police. That case is pending.

"We want to make sure these are not people intending to return wallets or found property," Ms. Thompson said.
 
2007-11-28 04:51:12 PM  
And now, I'd just like to give a bravo to the judges who are throwing these cases out, the prosecutors refusing to prosecute them, and the defense lawyers who aren't just backing down. Considering that all three of these groups are lawyers who are doing the right thing... yep, just wanted to bring that up.
 
2007-11-28 04:52:42 PM  
Is this laziness, stupidity, or both on the part of the NYPD?
 
2007-11-28 06:07:31 PM  
I don't have a problem with what they're doing. Not one bit.

This, of course, assumes that NY law states that you are under legal obligation to give any found property to THE FIRST cop you see.

If there is no such law, then I hope they get their asses handed to them nightstick first.

Honestly, I think that if ten thousand New Yorkers per day each pry a piece of gum from the bottom of their shoe, take it to the nearest cop, and INSIST on filing a found property report to avoid prosecution, it just miiiight make the NYPD GBTW.
 
2007-11-28 06:59:21 PM  
How do you spell 'Entrapment'?
 
2007-11-28 06:59:29 PM  
If you can't find crime. Manufacture it.
 
2007-11-28 06:59:37 PM  
If I see something that doesn't belong to me in NYC, I'm not touching it.
 
2007-11-28 07:03:18 PM  
Innocent until proven...

Ah screw it.

Guilty.
 
DVD
2007-11-28 07:03:43 PM  
Ron Bennington: If you can't find crime. Manufacture it.

In New York City that shouldn't be a problem...

(but the legal system is smacking the NYPD's hand for this one, from reading TFA)
 
2007-11-28 07:04:11 PM  
Ron Bennington: If you can't find crime. Manufacture it.

Why do so many people hate cops again?
 
2007-11-28 07:04:48 PM  
"We want to make sure these are not people intending to return wallets or found property," Ms. Thompson said.

Well as long as prosecutorial descretion shows that they have to show some proof of intent.
 
2007-11-28 07:06:00 PM  
I thought this sounded familiar, then I read that a similar program had gotten shut down. It was retarded and wrong then, it is even more so now.
 
2007-11-28 07:08:11 PM  
Wow.
Aquarius Cheers.
Just wow.
 
2007-11-28 07:08:37 PM  
I found a purse with 465 Mexican Pesos (About $70) in it, and when I took it to the address listed, the lady who lived there was pissed at me, said the woman had moved out two months ago.

She said I was the second person to come by.

I found a wallet once with $140 in it, and an out-of-town address.

Pocketed the money, mailed the wallet to the owner.

If our positions had been reversed, I would have wanted the same.
 
2007-11-28 07:09:05 PM  
When Lucky Bag began in February 2006, among its first 220 arrests were about 100 people who had prior charges

Sure, the prior time they found and got arrested intending to report a found wallet.

Nice catch 22 you all got going there coppers.
 
2007-11-28 07:09:07 PM  
If anyone finds my wallet please just look my name up in the damn phonebook. I'd prefer not spending three weeks arguing with the cops only to get it back empty.
 
2007-11-28 07:09:28 PM  
Like Asa said, I've found purses before in stores, and I would NEVER give it to a cop. I always bring it to the front desk, that's where the owner would go. Sadly, I trust the $8 hr employee to give it back more than the cops.
 
2007-11-28 07:10:28 PM  
Retarded tag needed. Anyone with Illustrator skills?
 
2007-11-28 07:10:33 PM  
How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Whats next leaving a kid on the subway and arrest anyone who attempts to talk to him and charge the person with pedophilia?
 
2007-11-28 07:10:44 PM  
isn't it irresponsible of the police to be leaving unattended bags around, what with all the turrists and what?
 
2007-11-28 07:12:20 PM  
The last thing I want is a damn cop getting my stuff. I'm sure they would look for a reason to arrest me in my wallet. Or just plant it there.

Are there any police on Fark?
 
2007-11-28 07:14:05 PM  
I found a purse with a cellphone in the back of a taxi once. I took the phone out, found "Home" on the directory, called it, and talked with the owner's husband. Met them at a nearby restaurant and returned it, for which the husband gave me $20.

And this is wrong because I didn't seek out the first cop in the area?
 
2007-11-28 07:14:16 PM  
Postal Penguin: How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Whats next leaving a kid on the subway and arrest anyone who attempts to talk to him and charge the person with pedophilia?

Before this story that almost sounded like it could NEVER happen.
 
2007-11-28 07:14:22 PM  
Postal Penguin: How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Whats next leaving a kid on the subway and arrest anyone who attempts to talk to him and charge the person with pedophilia?

Well in the defense of the police, everyone who talks to children also farks them. It's a well known fact.
 
2007-11-28 07:15:00 PM  
They tried this is Boston, but the officers who were in charge of leaving the purses were arrested and charged with planting hoax devices.
 
2007-11-28 07:15:00 PM  
Since when is there a rule or law that says recovered items have to be turned into the first cop one sees? That's absurd. Lazy pigs are entrapping people and getting AmEx to issue them fake cards to help them. wtf?
 
2007-11-28 07:15:31 PM  
Well, good for the judges and the prosecutors for throwing out these cases. However, I'd still be pissed that a stupid ass project is going on. It's a waste of time and money. I wonder how many more real crimes could have been solved, or at least had headway made on, if the cops involved in all of these were busy elsewhere?
 
2007-11-28 07:17:19 PM  
phreakmonkey: I found a purse with a cellphone in the back of a taxi once. I took the phone out, found "Home" on the directory, called it, and talked with the owner's husband. Met them at a nearby restaurant and returned it, for which the husband gave me $20.

And this is wrong because I didn't seek out the first cop in the area?


Haha.. I did that once myself, only the person listed as "My Wife" in the phone was single and sounded really pissed. Ended up just turning the phone over to the lost and found.
 
2007-11-28 07:17:26 PM  
matt2891: Well, good for the judges and the prosecutors for throwing out these cases. However, I'd still be pissed that a stupid ass project is going on. It's a waste of time and money. I wonder how many more real crimes could have been solved, or at least had headway made on, if the cops involved in all of these were busy elsewhere?

Ahh but that would mean the cops would have to deal with actual criminals and they are scary.
 
2007-11-28 07:19:11 PM  
Postal Penguin: How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Whats next leaving a kid on the subway and arrest anyone who attempts to talk to him and charge the person with pedophilia?

You would have been interested in the article a while back about how men nowadays tend to not help children in need out in public who apprear to be alone, because of the tendency for people to assume the worst.
 
2007-11-28 07:19:19 PM  
Yeah... whenever I've found anything, I've always tracked the person down myself to return it to them so that I could ensure that it (and all its contents) DID get back to them.

I kind of like the intent of their "sting" (I hate people who pocket shiat they've found when they have a means of finding the owner/returning it) but the way they've got it structured threatens to sweep in too many well-intentioned people as well... very ill-conceived.
 
2007-11-28 07:20:28 PM  
Penal
 
2007-11-28 07:21:40 PM  
Mongo cut wood
How do you spell 'Entrapment'?


Entrapment requires an element of inducement or persuasion on part of the police, not just creating the opportunity for crime.


Yes, this is messed up, but it isn't technically entrapment.
 
2007-11-28 07:23:13 PM  
www.gonemovies.com


"...It's entrapment already..."
 
2007-11-28 07:25:18 PM  
Well, if trying to do the right thing by looking for identifying information is now bad according to the NYPD, just point and scream bomb.
 
2007-11-28 07:26:57 PM  
techinicolor-misfit:Yeah... whenever I've found anything, I've always tracked the person down myself to return it to them so that I could ensure that it (and all its contents) DID get back to them.

I kind of like the intent of their "sting" (I hate people who pocket shiat they've found when they have a means of finding the owner/returning it) but the way they've got it structured threatens to sweep in too many well-intentioned people as well... very ill-conceived.


I hate people who do that too, however, I don't think that you can really have an effective sting for something like this. The cops can't really determine the intent of the finder short of following them around for however long the law gives a person to turn in found property (in the case of NYC law ten friggin' days). That would be costly and a gross misuse of manpower. The only other method is pretty much to do what they are doing now i.e. use a blanket policy to assume that everyone who picks it up and passes the first cop they see intends to keep the property. Which is falls short of the law and is just plain stupid.
 
2007-11-28 07:27:32 PM  
olddinosaur: I found a purse with 465 Mexican Pesos (About $70) in it, and when I took it to the address listed, the lady who lived there was pissed at me, said the woman had moved out two months ago.

She said I was the second person to come by.

I found a wallet once with $140 in it, and an out-of-town address.

Pocketed the money, mailed the wallet to the owner.


If our positions had been reversed, I would have wanted the same.


I've typically liked your style and find you to be interesting, but I have to say that was a dick move.

Coming up 140 bucks short near payday could be the difference between eating and paying the rent for some people.

\do unto others, etc.
 
2007-11-28 07:30:04 PM  
Jeez. The scariest thing I did this year was pick up that Ipod someone dropped outside the Peet's coffee and turn it in to their lost and found.
 
2007-11-28 07:31:24 PM  
So 120 out of the 220 people involved that are totally innocent get gooned to the ground by the bulls, arrested, processed, photoed, fingerprinted, and canned. Lovely. Fark I hate what the police have become whether here in Vancouver where they will taser you to death in the airport on arrival to NYPD to just about any police force anywhere in the world. DIAF you Nazi bastards.
 
2007-11-28 07:32:20 PM  
copperheadclgp: olddinosaur: I found a purse with 465 Mexican Pesos (About $70) in it, and when I took it to the address listed, the lady who lived there was pissed at me, said the woman had moved out two months ago.

She said I was the second person to come by.

I found a wallet once with $140 in it, and an out-of-town address.

Pocketed the money, mailed the wallet to the owner.


If our positions had been reversed, I would have wanted the same.

I've typically liked your style and find you to be interesting, but I have to say that was a dick move.

Coming up 140 bucks short near payday could be the difference between eating and paying the rent for some people.

\do unto others, etc.


Ahhh-ahhh, but this is fark my friend, people on fark never make boneheaded moves like dropping a wallet, the only people who do that are obviously dumb, not just dumb but mind numbingly stupid, and as we all know stupid people deserve whatever they get, and common sense and decency are not to be wasted on such dregs of society.
 
2007-11-28 07:32:24 PM  
"copperhead," if I had dropped it in the mailbox money and all, you REALLY think it would have reached the owner with the money intact?

I carry a Platinum VISA, a Capital One and a Chase card, net value $5,000; if I lose my wallet, anyone who finds it can keep all the cash. I would smile to get out so easy.

\\\ guy was a rich dude at a tourist locale.

\\ \\ \\ six credit cards, plus Driver's Lic. and Social Sec. card, I don't know what his limit was but I could have maxed him out easy.

\\\ and if you can afford to rent a charter fishing boat, you can afford $140 to get your crap back.
 
2007-11-28 07:35:43 PM  
POSTSCRIPTUS TO PREVIOUS POST: If some guy finds my wallet and takes the cash and flips it, then a second guy finds it empty, I will take him to the ATM and download $100 for his trouble.

I did in fact find a wallet which had been emptied, with a big stack of plastic. Belonged to some Navy guy, there was a military ID in it.

\\ Gave it to the SP at the main gate of the local base.
 
2007-11-28 07:36:02 PM  
Fun reversal:

Create a sting wherein someone turns in a wallet to the cops with enough money in it to be tempting, say $100 or so. With a number of witnesses, photographs etc of said money in said wallet, and multiple-angle recordings of cop accepting the wallet so there's no possibility of denying it. Maybe even tag the money with UV ink.

Wait and see if the cop returns the wallet to the "rightful owner" whose address would be in there several times - no doubt as to who it belonged to.

If the wallet isn't returned, or the money's not all there, file charges against the officer you presented it to.

/sauce for the gander, Mr Saavik
 
2007-11-28 07:36:08 PM  
Mr_Smartypants: Yes, this is messed up, but it isn't technically entrapment.

And technically, no crime would have occurred without the police creating the situation. Sounds like inducement to me.
 
2007-11-28 07:36:52 PM  
img515.imageshack.us
 
2007-11-28 07:39:51 PM  
I lived in Queens, worked in Manhattan, once i took a cab to one of our clients buildings on a troubleshoot for something or other.

Anyway, my company cellphone fell off in the cab. So I called my cell number, someone answered and i told him who i was and could he please return the cellphone to me at home office location. He said yes and i thanked him.

Never got the cellphone back. Company write-off and me looking like a dick. I still love NYC though.

Bottom line: you lose ANYTHING in Manhattan and its up for grabs like no city you've ever lived in.
 
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