The NYPD's "Lucky Bag" sting operation has done a great job nailing people who find a discarded bag and make the mistake of poking around inside it. If you recall, Operation Lucky Bag involves police leaving a "bag in a public location filled with valuables such as an iPod or cash," and then arresting whoever picks it up—even though the law gives people 10 days to return lost property to its owners or the police department. The sting has been very "successful" in Central Park, where tourist Yakov Dubin was one unlucky target in 2011. He later sued the city for $1 million, and now another class action suit is piling on.
Last spring, one Spiridon Argyros noticed a bag with a wallet sticking out of it on the sidewalk in Queens. He says he picked it up with the intention of turning it in, but before he had a chance, NYPD officers swept in and arrested him. “I turned around, it was seconds, and I was surrounded by five people in plainclothes,” Argyros, 37, told the Daily News. “They said they were police.”
He was taken to the police station and booked, but the charges were later dismissed. Now Argyros, who manages a diner in midtown and says he's returned numerous valuables to customers, is part of a class action lawsuit against the city filed by attorney Norman Siegel. "The sting operation traps its victims, treating good Samaritans as criminals,” Siegel argues.
Indeed, five months BEFORE Argyros was arrested, Andrew Schaffer, then the NYPD deputy commissioner of legal matters, issued a memo intended to curtail the Lucky Bag stings. "A person picking up property that they find cannot be charged with larceny simply because they fail to return the property to a police officer who is located near the site at the time that the property was found," Schaffer advised the NYPD's Chief of Patrol, who was presumably listening to his favorite George Baker Selection song at full volume and couldn't hear a thing.