The New York Police Department has been going fishing. Not content to nab criminals when they break the law on their own, the department has been planting unattended bags in subway stations to see who might take them, at which point waiting officers pounce.
As NY1 News reported last week, 220 people were arrested last year in the sting, known as Operation Lucky Bag. In dismissing one of these cases, a Brooklyn judge said the police â€œdo not need to manipulate a situation where temptation may overcome even people who would normally never think of committing a crime.â€ This program bothers us for that and many other reasons and should be discontinued immediately.
Civil libertarians have argued that the program is entrapment. That is a legal distinction for the courts to decide, but it certainly looks like that to a layperson. It is clearly a poor use of resources. People wandering off with lost property ranks far down the list of law enforcement priorities.
The editorial goes on to note the possibility that some people might actually be taking the bags home to try to track down the owners themselves. There’s a genuine possibility that some New Yorkers might consider themselves more likely to find the bag’s owner than the NYC Transit Authority. But even discounting that, what a waste of time. I swear, there are people in that city who consider it their job to make life there more of a pain in the ass than it already is.