Police Use Decoy Wallets, Purses To Make Arrests

WNBC
Dec. 06, 2007

Video: Police Use Decoy Wallets, Purses To Make ArrestsNEW YORK -- Careful what you pick up in the subway -- it could lead to your arrest.

Straphanger Carlos Alayo said he learned that lesson when he picked up what he thought was a derelict wallet laying on a subway platform bench.

He said he intended to find its owner and return it, but as he went to get on the G train, he said he was stopped by police.

The 32-year-old had been ensnared in Operation Lucky Bag, an initiative from the New York City Police Department to lay decoys -- shopping bags, purses, backpacks or wallets -- around the subway system under the watchful gaze of officers who wait to see what passersby will do.

The decoys often contain real credit cards issued under pseudonyms to the police department. Theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a felony that could lead to jail time.

Police said that Operation Lucky Bag led to 101 arrests last year. Those individuals had a combined total of 761 prior arrests last year, said police spokesman Paul Browne.

"A person who takes or finds property which is lost or mislaid has a legal obligation to make efforts to return the property to its owner, which can include delivering the property to police," Browne said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union said the decoy tactic could deter people from being good Samaritans and should be abandoned.

"I'm sure the NYPD has far more sophisticated tactics at their disposal than dropping wallets on their trains," said NCLU executive director Donna Lieberman.

Alayo said he was not arrested or charged.







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