New York City prosecutors have been concerned about some arrests stemming from the police department's Operation Lucky Bag, in which an undercover officer leaves an item in the subway to see if someone will take it, says the New York Times. In some cases, police officers were not proving that the person who picked up the bag had intended to commit a crime. Police officials ordered more training and told officers to look for six types of behavior by suspects: opening the bag and rifling through the contents; removing money or other items; removing valuables and discarding the bag; hiding the bag; denying to an officer that they had found the items; and displaying “furtive behavior” to see if they were observed.
A prosecutor reports seeing “better arrests” after the police revamped protocols. Lucky Bag has netted 100 arrests this year. Critics, who say the program borders on entrapment by baiting otherwise law-abiding citizens, said that the memo did not go far enough and that innocent people could still be stopped and detained, even if not arrested. Of the 100 people arrested this year, 58 had prior arrests in 441 crimes. The police Transit Bureau chief, James P. Hall, believes that the operation had had a deterrent effect. He said the number of cases of grand larceny in the subway had fallen to 1,277 as of Dec. 16 from 1,469 in 2006.