What's in YOUR wallet?

James Wolcott

It seems that the crime level in New York may have dropped so much that the NYPD are having to generate their own criminals:
here in New York the police department has come up with a gotcha program dubbed (with appropriate ironic cynicism) Operation Lucky Bag. Here's how it works.

The decoy operation involves planting shopping bags, purses, backpacks and wallets around the subway system, where unsuspecting passersby are watched to see how they react. The plants used to be worth a few hundred dollars at most.

"Sting operation" seems to be the more appropriate term, and the word "entrapment" also floats to mind. Operating on the principle that finders aren't keepers, those who made off with the goodie bags risked being arrested if they didn't return them to the proper owner, which in this case was the police department. But decoy/sting, whatever you call it, it was a ruse that only nabbed small fry. Until the ante was upped.

Now the [strategically dropped decoy bags] contain real American Express Cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department. Theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E felony, so anyone cops believe has the intention of stealing the decoy wallet or bag could face up to four years behind bars.

Yes, let's create a crime which we can crack down on and make sure our prison facilities never lack for inmates.