What does it take to catch a thief on the mean streets of New York? Actually, not much. The New York Police Department is getting criticized for its sting operations to catch thieves. The NYPD leaves "bait," anything from a credit card, to small amounts of cash, to even cigarettes, and then arrests whoever grabs it, the Associated Press reported.
In a typical scenario, a plainclothes officer leaves a handbag on a train platform, and then waits to see if anyone grabs it without trying to return it. Last year, the cops arrested someone who stole $27 from a purse that the police abandoned, the AP reported.
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The tactic has been the subject of controversy after a Bronx woman recently went to court over an alleged theft.
Deirdre Myers, a mother of three, was sitting on the stoop of her building when a car pulled up. The driver got out of the car and started running as police chased him, leaving a phone and cash behind in the vehicle, she told the New York Daily News. Myers took the money with plans to bring it to a police station, she said. But it turned out that the entire scenario was fake: everyone involved was an undercover cop. Myers was arrested at gunpoint for taking the money.
In January of this year, Bronx Criminal Court Judge Linda Poust Lopez threw out charges against Myers, saying she was actually a victim of an "elaborate" scheme by police to "trap" her.