Unlucky Bag

From a post by Gerri L. Elder on Total Lawyers:

It seems that in New York, the police officers no longer have -after Mayor Guiliani cleaned up the city – enough existing criminals to justify their numbers. They have to resort to entrapping citizens into breaking the law.

Have you ever seen a lost wallet or misplaced purse and picked it up with the intention of returning it to its owner? In NYC you might be committing a crime – a crime that the NYPD set you up for.

Plainclothes NYPD officers have been planting purses in NYC department stores. They then secretly surveil who picks them up. In one Macy’s store, three people were arrested when they picked up the purses. These people, who could have easily intended to return the bags, are now faced with being indicted on charges that could send them to state prison.

This supposed sting operation is very similar to a previous scam run by the NYPD nine months ago called Operation Lucky Bag. That attempt at entrapment was shut down by a Brooklyn judge. Afterwards notes were added to the prosecutor’s handbook to clarify that in order to prosecute these types of cases there had to be proof that the person who found the valuables had criminal intentions since under the law – what the NYPD is supposed to enforce – a person who finds valuables has 10 days to turn any found property if it exceed $20 of value.

They’re back at it again though – with a particularly nasty twist that upgrades the charges into Class E felonies. The purses that now are being left lying around have real American Express cards in them that have been issued to the police department under fake names. This dramatically raises the risks to the citizenry; since the purses contain credit cards with an available balance exceeding $1000 the crime of picking up one of these bags is considered Grand Larceny in the Fourth (4th) Degree.

Grand larceny 4 carries a penalty of up to 4 years in prison. Legal defense fees for defendants can easily exceed $20,000. This seems a harsh thing to do someone who might have been a Good Samaritan.

So, as in all things today, if you see something or find someone keep on about your business. Do not help, do not get involved. By doing so you would be interfering in the domain of the NYPD and they will protect their jobs by having you incarcerated!

Tags: | | | | | |

10 Responses to “Unlucky Bag”

  1. Steph Says:

    I don’t know New York’s theft laws but if the police intentionally discarded the property, with the aim that the defendant (or another) would pick it up, they have implicitly consented to the transfer of ownership, and the rightful owner is now the defendant.

  2. No Compromises Says:

    You mean to tell me that a major US City has nothing to do but fill up our already stuffed courtrooms, jails and prisons with people who pick up purses? No wonder my street has so many sex predators serving home detention! The prisons are filled up with taxpayers, there’s no room for the real criminals! Just more crap to piss ya off!

  3. jonolan Says:

    Welcome back as always. You’re my favorite anarchist. I’m admittedly unsure of that particular piece of law. I do know that the NYPD is skirting the edges of entrapment and violating the guidelines set forth by the District Attorney’s Office.

    No Compromises,

    Welcome to reflections from A Murky Pond! I am telling you exactly that! Check the links in the post for the source material. In the previous attempt, Operation Lucky bag, they “netted” almost 50% people with no prior criminal history or known intent to develop one. Now, they’re at it again for higher stakes.

  4. Pat Says:

    Thanks for the warning! I’ll just get a store floor attendant to note the fact a personal item had been “left behind.”

  5. Steph Says:

    Thanks Jonolan. I’m not sure about your entrapment laws but as a general rule, the police have to act as agent provocateur and solicit the crime. In the UK they leave cars unlocked.

  6. jonolan Says:

    I’m not positive either, but leaving purses and packages where they’ll be picked sounds awfully similar to leaving cars unlocked. I would assume that, if the NYPD chooses to arrest people when they pick up the purses, then leaving them there would be acting as agent provocateur.

    It’s a shame you’re not licensed to practice in the US. I’m betting you could have fun with a case like that;)

  7. No Compromises Says:

    Hi Jonolan,

    Ya know this doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s time voters start to understand that those in government are in the business of keeping their jobs at all costs. In my state the state patrol do quotas when they pull one over for traffic violations. Why do they have quotas? Because the state patrol gets 5% of all monies they receive on all these traffic tickets. So if they need money they increase the handing out of traffic tickets. They don’t force cops to hand out alot of tickets but what they do is they reward those who do hand out alot of tickets, so it doesn’t look bad to the public.

    You find this kind of behavior on all levels of gub’ment! It really pisses me off and most taxpayers have no clue that this gub’ment job security is going on! What do you think of this?

  8. jonolan Says:

    No Compromises,

    When it comes to traffic tickets, the situation is more complex – though no less vile. The federal government requires the states to enforce certain traffic regulations otherwise the feds won’t match highway spending dollars. The only way for the states to prove enforcement is tickets…

    But yeah, in general you’re right; it’s no surprise.

  9. Christy Says:

    This is absolute b.s.
    Makes me sick.

  10. Steph Says:

    @ Jonolon

    I don’t think it is agent provocateur because they’ve not actually solicited the offence but it’s still unethical and you’ve got to ask why the police force is creating crime.

    Actually, I think I can practice in America temporarily under GATS (I’m not sure) but under the EU directive, I can practice in any EU state, it doesn’t matter whether I speak the language or not.

Leave a Reply