Powered by WebAds

Friday, July 21, 2006

Entrapment?

Gothamist points out this brilliant NYPD crime-fighting program:
Last February, the NYPD announced that it was conducting "Operation Lucky Bag" to suss out criminals. The police leave a shopping cart, purse or bag on a subway platform to tempt thieves, and then arrest crooks who try to steal the items!
I cannot believe that this is what "New York's Finest" are wasting their time doing. First of all, who says that taking lost or abandoned property is stealing? Sure, it's a gray area, and people should ostensibly do everything possible to return the items to their rightful owner, but a person who chooses to walk off with the abandoned property is far from a criminal, in my mind. With shootings of innocent vistims, some of them children, hit-and-runs, armed robberies, and break-ins happening every day in NYC, it's hard for me to view this program as doing its part to get the real criminals off the streets. Also...entrapment, anyone? Gothamist points that out, as well as this amusing story:
Of course, lawyers are concerned about entrapment, and Gothaimst had wondered what if someone, trying to be a good samaritan, attempted to take the bags to the lost and found. Well, someone did - and she was arrested! The Downtown Express reports that 52 year old Helen Calthorpe was arrested after picking up a shopping bag at the Columbus Circle 1 platform.
Calthorpe, an actress who was going to her day job at about 1 p.m. on June 14, saw the Verizon shopping bag, looked in and saw a box for a cell phone and an iPod beside it and picked up the bag. She was immediately surrounded by four police officers, one in uniform and the others in plainclothes.

“They kept asking, ‘Where are you going with that bag?’ and put me in handcuffs with my hands behind me,” Calthorpe said in an interview last week during which she insisted she had never been arrested before and was victimized by police.

She recalled that she had been in a hurry to get to her job and intended to look into the bag later to see if there was a receipt with an address of the person who lost it.

“I was going to call up and say I’d found it — the same thing happed to me a couple of years ago when I lost my wallet in the subway and a man from Queens called me to say he found it,” Calthorpe said.
This whole NYPD operation is absurd - from conception to execution, and in my opinion, should be scrapped. The NYPD should go find some real bad guys!

30 Comments:

Anonymous Al Gore said...

I first heard about this about a month ago on one of the "chaimishe" blogs. It seems this tactic once nabbed a frumme woman who tried to take a bag which contain some sort of fancy electronic device out of a subway station.

OK, I can understand if the law requires one to turn a loss item into the authorities, but who's to say the person who finds an iPod isn't going to turn it in later when she's not so pressed for time?

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Al Gore said...

I lost my wallet in the subway and a man from Queens called me to say he found it

Oh, that reminds me of a time when I was a maintenance worker at a hotel in college. I found a wallet with ID and credit cards but no money in the grass. I called up the owner who showed up and then proceeded to accuse me of taking his money. Sigh. Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous George said...

In NY for the defense of entrapment the defendant has to prove that they were not predisposed to commit the crime.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

The program does seem to have a major flaw bec. it is too easy for well meaning people to get caught up in it.

That being said, assuming that the person who was taking the bag did not intend to turn it in to the police, a crime has been committed and the person will be convicted. The law in NY is that while any abandoned property may be kept, any lost property worth over $20 must be turned over to the police for a specified time (while they look for the owner) after which the finder may claim it. Entrapment is not a defense either. Entrapment generally only applies when the police act to persuade someone to commit a crime, and only where the person does not have a propensity (read: history/desire) to commit the crime in the first place. Merely making the opportunity to commit the crime available as they are doing here will not be entrapment.

As far as "getting the real criminals off the street", going after petty criminals (aka the "broken windows theory of policing") is exactly what made the Bratton/Giuliani approach to fighting crime so successful. Thios program may be flawed (as noted above), but the general approach of targeting petty criminals has worked wonder for the city's crime rate over the past 13 years or so.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Al Gore said...

In NY for the defense of entrapment the defendant has to prove that they were not predisposed to commit the crime.

How does the defendant do that? Does she point to her spotless criminal record?

Do any of the New Yorkers (legal types) here know if a state statute or city ordinance requires the finder of a lost object to immediately contact the appropriate authorities?

2:52 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

al gore - see my comment above for the State law on found objects. Not sure what the timeframe is on it though.

As to entrapment, it will come down to the facts and circumstances of the case once it goes to trial (jury decides). The Defendant has to show by a preponderance of the evidence that they had no predisposition to commit the crime and that the police persuaded her to do it. I think the persuasion aspect means repeated requests too, not just asking once. Its a very hard standard to meet.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Finders of lost property of over $20 in value are supposed to turn it into the police.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

George - you wouldn't happen to be taking the NY bar exam next week? That's the only reason I have any knowledge of this stuff.

3:10 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

SA, it isn't about whether this program meets the precise legal definition of entrapment. This is about whether this program is really one that is going to catch criminals (or would-be criminals, according to your broken windows cite) by putting apparent abandoned objects out as a sort of piece of cheese to the NYPD mousetrap. Do you really believe that someone who keeps an abandoned ipod is even a criminal - even a petty one?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

OM - There is a big difference between "abandoned" items and "lost" ones. Abandoned means that the former owner has decided he doesn't want it anymore and left it out. Lost means they forgot it. How many people do you think abandon ipods?

And yes, I do think that someone who takes home a lost ipod is a criminal, albeit a petty one - would you feel the person wasn't a criminal if it was your ipod? Or better yet, your wallet?

I got into the entrapment stuff because both you and the article you quoted mentioned it as a potential problem with the prgram. The program is flawed, but entrapment is not the reason.

3:19 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


And yes, I do think that someone who takes home a lost ipod is a criminal, albeit a petty one - would you feel the person wasn't a criminal if it was your ipod? Or better yet, your wallet?


You must be kidding. If I lose my ipod or wallet, I consider it gone. If anyone actually returns it, I would consider that to be a miracle. And I don't consider the person who took it home to be a criminal. Really. There's a reason stories that entail cash or expensive items being returned after they are lost in cabs, etc. are so often publicized - that's because people simply don't believe that is is in human nature for most people to return a found item if the ramifications seem negligible. Should it be? Perhaps. But to attempt to enforce that with a mousetrap such as this one is plain wrong. Again, this is my opinion.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agreee with our hostess. If the cops were to act as decoys, with ipods or cash sticking out of their pocket then I would understand if the pickpocketer of the stuff would be arrested for being acriminal. I don't think its fair to arrest them for finding something and hanging onto it.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

From the description, the "finders" were never given a chance to turn it into the police, the transit authority, etc. The minute they examined the ostensibly abandoned or lost property, they were confronted by the police.

The goal of "tipping point" crime prevention is to send a message to criminals that there is a police presence in their communities and that committing even a minor criminal offense is risky. The unintended goal of this program is to encourage everyone to mind his/her own business with no exceptions for plain old helpfulness.

What's next? Prosecuting people who give incorrect directions to tourists or recommend lousy restaurants to out-of-towners?

3:54 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


What's next? Prosecuting people who give incorrect directions to tourists or recommend lousy restaurants to out-of-towners?


Lol.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous George said...

guilty as charged

4:00 PM  
Anonymous G said...

I'm confused, I thought that trying to be a good samaritan WAS against the law in New York ;-)

4:05 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

George - well good luck with it.

Fox - I agree with you that the program is flawed for the reasons you outlined. There is no way to tell that the person was not going to turn the item in. The prosecution of "tipping point" crimes reduces crime for more than just the "notice" reason you cite. It also serves to increase an atmosphere of respect for the law generally (since there are consequesnces to violation) AND it puts people who are more likely to commit more serious crimes behind bars before they get around to it.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al Gore used to be a maintenance worker?!

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is quite something...
Rice Aims to Achieve Lasting Peaceful Conditions on Mideast Trip

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"With shootings of innocent vistims, some of them children, hit-and-runs, armed robberies, and break-ins happening every day in NYC"

Every day? When was the last time you heard of a drive by shooting or armed robbery in new york? Surely not today.

6:22 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Every day? When was the last time you heard of a drive by shooting or armed robbery in new york? Surely not today.


From Today's news:

A pedestrian knocked down by a hit-run driver was run over and killed by a bus moments later in Hell's Kitchen, cops said yesterday.

From Tuesday's news:

An 11-year-old girl is shot dead while she was cooling off in a hydrant's spray on a Queens street. The shots came from a car driving by.

From last week's news:

Mr. Wood will be arraigned on charges that he and other suspects stole a gold chain and a wallet from a passenger on the A train Sunday night.

Police sources say Wood and his friend intimidated the victim with a gun at the Grant Street station in East New York, threatening him with the weapon until forcibly grabbing the goods and running. He was arrested about 45 minutes later.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Even with the reduced crime rate there are over 365 murders each year, so on average there is a murder each day, let alone other more common crimes

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:22 -- my son and I were on the scene of an armed robbery in June. The robber fled into the subway and the police had to turn off the third rail to flush him out.

I can't believe the police are so bored that four of them are waiting around for someone to peer into the bag. My first instinct would have been to bring it to the token booth, but now I'll just leave it for a criminal, thank you very much.

BTW, just to toot my own horn, a few years ago I found a backpack in the back of the cab that picked me up at LaGuardia airport. The bag had a pair of tefillin in it along with a notebook with a name in it. I made the cabbie drive to a police station, where I turned. it in. He told me where his previous stop was (they are supposed to keep track). I looked up all of the people with the same name, found one on that street, called it, and sure enough found the guy's sister.
Yay for me! Next time, I'll just leave the bag for the next passenger.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just think next time yioly can bust them in the sting.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

next time we will mind our own business. Just think that bag with the bomb could have been reported. thanks NYPD

10:47 PM  
Blogger Chana said...

Seriously - whatever happened to reporting suspcious packages and the bomb squad coming in and blowing them up??

Who's to say an iPod in an abandoned shopping bag is really an iPod these days? And in NYC?

5:22 PM  
Blogger storywatcher said...

The MTA has a campaign, "If you see something, say something." So you see a bag and go investigate whether it's something you should tell cops about and BAM, you're busted.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

My first thought was that they shouldn't be leaving unattended bags around, since people will report them as possible bomb threats, and distract the staff.

Is this some kind of punishment duty for cops they want to drive crazy?

2:44 AM  
Anonymous an american living in Ireland said...

My god is this really what the US of A has come to? What has gone so terribly wrong over there - when a decent citizen can be arrested and treated so horribly for trying to do her duty as an upstanding citizen. How can the people of NYC stand by and allow their police to engage in such underhand activity.

This is beyond belief! Are you all suffering from paranoia over there????

7:42 PM  
Blogger chenlina said...

chenlina20160524
coach factory outlet online
ray ban outlet
ray ban sunglasses
christian louboutin outlet
coach outlet
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
cheap jordan shoes
cheap jordans
polo ralph lauren outlet
coach outlet clearance
adidas shoes
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors handbags
rolex watches
air max 90
christian louboutin shoes
true religion outlet
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 4 toro
nike air jordan
michael kors outlet clearance
hollister uk
ray bans
louis vuitton outlet
north face outlet
kids lebron shoes
hollister outlet
gucci outlet
oakley outlet
louis vuitton
oakley sunglasses outlet
ray ban sunglasses discount
nike trainers
ray ban sunglasses discount
coach outlet
ralph lauren outlet
kate spade handbags
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors uk
as

10:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home