It’s a tactic the New York Police Department has used for years: leaving cars and bags loaded with valuables in plain sight to see if anyone takes the bait. Those who leave without trying to turn in the valuables are arrested.
A judge’s strong words in a ruling this year throwing out one such case has drawn renewed attention to the practice.
Police took Deirdre Myers and her teen daughter into custody in the Bronx in 2010 during what’s known as a “bait car” operation. It involved leaving a wad of cash in an unattended car and seeing if thieves would take advantage.
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 too far.
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.
The city Law Department is reviewing Myers’ lawsuit, city attorney Raju Sundaran said. But, he added, “undercover sting operations are lawful and help reduce crime.”
The judge suggested that Myers’ brush with the law had its roots in the so-called lucky bag operation that the NYPD began in 2006 to deter thefts of wallets, shopping bags, smartphones and other valuables in the subways.