Cops vs. Criminals

In New Haven, the mayor is saying great things about a plan by police to steal personal items from people’s closed cars that they can turn around and sell for profit after 60 days. The police claim that this is done in the best interest of the car owners, as it prevents a thief from stealing it and taking it to the pawn shop for a profit.

And this is why local elections matter.

12 Responses to “Cops vs. Criminals”

  1. Alien says:

    First, a pet peeve: The New Haven Independent is an example of why newspapers are dying out; according to USPS there are 8 cities in the US named New Haven and the Independent staff isn’t smart enough to understand people from outside their town might visit the paper’s web site, so they don’t tell you which of the New Havens they publish in.

    Second, what is the difference between a common street thief and these cops? …if you don’t come get your belongings, they will become the property of NHPD. “But I think people will come and get their stuff,” Sharp said.

    Gee, thanks, sport.

    • Alpheus says:

      One idea from the comments that didn’t occur to me, was that a potential thief could just copy the form and steal a lot of stuff. The police will then be wondering why they can’t find the person’s stuff when the person comes to get them.

      One idea that did occur to me was that, if you were a visitor who popped into your friend’s apartment to grab something, and perhaps to chat for a bit before you left for your plane, you might not notice that your stuff is missing until you get to the airport, and then you don’t have time to rush to the police station to get your stuff, and you are from out-of-state, and this was a one-time chance to visit your friend…in such a scenario, you are basically up a creek without a paddle!

      Sure, if someone stole your stuff under such a scenario, you aren’t getting it back…but I somehow doubt that the probability of having your stuff stolen justifies the risk imposed by having the police take it themselves.

      (Come to think of it, this is yet another example of a principle that has occurred to me: police departments and governments should never profit from confiscations, whether it be from something like this, or from drug lords, or anything in between. It’s a conflict of interest that we should consider unethical.)

      • TS says:

        Right. And if you just missed your stuff being stolen by the cops, you can’t exactly go and pick it up from the station. It’s riding around in a cop car. It will be at the station tomorrow (or on Monday if it’s a Friday). And what about when it’s just not worth it? Most people will have to take off work to retrieve it. When it’s a laptop, sure, but what about when it’s a bag of sweaty clothes and your favorite gym shoes? Do you write that off, or do you go get it? People shouldn’t have to decide if their gym shoes are worth taking a half day off work. This article specifically mentioned a bag with unknown contents (not just “valuables”) as being worth taking by the cops. Cops shouldn’t be stealing stuff, period.

  2. And, how is this not a crime and not a 4th amendment violation?

  3. Peter O says:

    To Quote my Lawyer friend “Yeaaa, no.”

  4. Zermoid says:

    And what happens to you if you happen to have something illegal in a bag or case they take?
    Don’t try to tell me they aren’t going to search thru whatever they take from your car. And what’s next? checking house doors and emptying the house out if the doors aren’t all locked?
    This is sooooo wrong on so many levels……

    And how can they even jokingly say this is for your protection? Smash and grab thieves generally don’t rob people, they hit unattended cars, not occupied ones, so how is this a public safety move in any way?

    • rd says:

      It is not a search, “it is an inventory.”

      And it is for your own good citizen. Don’t you forget it!

  5. The_Jack says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if they find a car that has nice stuff in view but is locked…

    Don’t they plan to still leave a notice?

    Which is -um- turning the police into scouts for crooks.

    I mean a crook can follow behind the cops and know for a fact which cars have something nice in ’em.

  6. GMC70 says:

    In a law enforcement environment with a long history of bad ideas, this is an ungodly stupid idea.

    First off, it’s theft. Pure and simple. At the least, it is temporary deprivation. Moreover, it’s an illegal search AND seizure, a 4th amendment violation. And it assumes a level of trust of law enforcement that frankly law enforcement simply has not earned.

    Theft is still theft. Personally, I’d be looking forward to charging the officers. Enjoy, folks.

    And yes, I am a lawyer. Doing criminal work. I GUARANTEE you, the first time the officers find something illegal (and they will), and the prosecutor throws out this “caretaker” exception to justify the search (and they will; they just can’t help themselves), in my state, it won’t take the judge but a few minutes to suppress the evidence out of court as unconstitutionally seized.


  7. TS says:

    I lived in a neighborhood where it was common practice to leave your car unlocked so the windows don’t get broken. I actually gained a screwdriver with this technique.

  8. mike w. says:

    And why exactly couldn’t the cops, if they’re going to snoop into people’s cars, just put the valuables in the trunk, lock the doors and leave a note?

    That would make too much sense, as would simply not nosing around in citizens cars, and so they steal people’s property.

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