Take the bait? NYPD anti-theft tactics criticized

Apr 14, 2013 - by - 0 Comments

April 14, 2013 Associated Press

NEW YORK  — Sometimes the bait is a small amount of cash in a stray wallet. Or a credit card. Even a pack of cigarettes can do the trick.

Police in New York City leave the items unattended — on subway platforms, on park benches, in cars — and wait to see if someone grabs them.

The New York Police Department says the practice has been a valuable tool for catching career criminals and deterring thefts in public places. But a recent court ruling throwing out a larceny case against a Bronx woman cast a harsh light on a tactic critics say too often sweeps up innocent people.

Judge Linda Poust Lopez found that there was no proof Deirdre Myers tried to steal anything — and that she was framed by a sting that took the tactic way too far.

Upholding the charges "would greatly damage the confidence and trust of the public in the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and rightly so," the judge wrote.

Myers, a 40-year-old single mother with no criminal record, has since sued the city, claiming she and her daughter were traumatized by a wrongful arrest in 2010.

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