So the cops are trying to gin some up:
Nine months ago, a similar police decoy program called Operation Lucky Bag was effectively shut down by prosecutors and judges who were concerned that it was sweeping up the civic-minded alongside those bent on larceny. Shopping bags, backpacks and purses were left around the subway system, then stealthily watched by undercover officers. They arrested anyone who took the items and walked past a police officer in uniform without reporting the discovery.
Now, a new version of the operation has started to catch people in public places outside the subways, and at much higher stakes, Criminal Court records show.
Unlike the initial program, in which the props were worth at most a few hundred dollars, the bags are now salted with real American Express cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department.
Because the theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E felony, those convicted could face sentences of up to four years. The charges in the first round of Operation Lucky Bag were nearly all petty larceny, a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
Two years ago, I found a wallet on the street in the city I live in. I picked it up, walked past probably several cops and what not, as it never even occurred to me to give it to them. I went through the wallet, found the ID, called the person, met them at Kroger (a grocery store near where we both lived), and gave it to them.
That would make me a potential felon in NYC. As noted in the comments:
It’s a twofer: you discourage good Samaratans (who might actually try to return the purses) while at the same time promoting a view of the police as a sneaky organization out to get you.
Idiots. Maybe if everyone reports them as suspicious packages and it costs them an arm and a leg to scramble the Homeland Security apparatus, it will nip this bullshit in the bud.
*** Update ***
Option #2- If you live in NYC, anything you find unattended should be handed to a policeman. Coke cans, empty McDonald’s bags- it doesn’t matter. It might have an American Express card in it.