March 6, 2007
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 “do not need to manipulate a situation where temptation may overcome even people who would normally never think of committing a crime.” This program bothers us for that and many other reasons and should be discontinued immediately.
This is Helen Calthorpe, 52, a well known actress, who lives on Grand St. in Soho NY. She thought was being a good Samaritan when she picked up an apparently forgotten shopping bag on a bench on the Columbus Circle No. 1 subway platform on the afternoon of June 14 2006. She ended up spending five hours in the Midtown Community Court and being booked for petty larceny.
Helen had been caught in the police “Lucky Bag” sting, in operation on the NY subway system since February. The operation involves police putting a shopping bag or backpack on a subway bench and arresting anyone who picks it up for petit larceny and possession of stolen property.
Calthorpe defiantly pled not guilty at a hearing in July. Her trial was scheduled for last week in Criminal Court at 100 Centre St. Prosecutors requested a postponement, claiming they were unprepared for her continued not-guilty plea.
Prosecutors notified Calthorpe’s attorney that they were dropping all charges against her.
“The people could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Jennifer Kushner, a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokesperson.
A number of unlucky, unknowing individuals have accepted fines and sentences of community service, rather than risk a trial.
This insane, dishonest and deceitful method of policing hasn't (as far as anyone can tell) reached the civilised shores of the UK ...yet. It will .... It will.