So my officers bought a 32" tv from Wal-Mart (so owned by the PD), and placed it in the back of a truck in the parking lot of Wal-Mart to set up a sting operation. No one took the bait. They moved the truck around, still no one took the bait. So they decided to put the TV (still in box) in a shopping cart and put the cart on the far end of the parking lot. I now have 5 defendants who tried to take the TV. Probable defenses will be abandonment or the element "without the owner's effective consent" because clearly the owner (the PD) placed the tv there to be taken....beyond that, I'm having a bit of a problem justifying prosecution. It just smells bad to me for some reason. Any opinions on this issue are welcome!"SA Prosecutor" responded "That's why you are going to offer probation!" But TDCAA's appellate counsel John Stride saw nothing wrong with the tactic. "I'm not smelling it at all," he declared:
Why does it matter where the officers put the TV on the premises? It was still in its original wrapping on the Wal-Mart parking lot. To any reasonable person it belonged to a purchaser--probably in the process of loading it--or even Wal-Mart. If it had been unwrapped, abandonment may be more likely. But, in any event, why wouldn't someone check with Wal-Mart employees first? Think of the bait bicycles used by some departments.TDCAA's lobbyist Shannon Edmonds at the end of the short string suggested, "Wouldn't it be nice if officers would check with the prosecutor BEFORE doing things like this?!?"
I'm not a lawyer and have no opinion on whether the facts of the situation fit the elements of any of the thousands of crimes on the books. But I'm certainly of the opinion that there ought to be enough crime out there to investigate that law enforcement doesn't need to manufacture it. And if there's so little crime that police have time to engage in this sort of activity, perhaps it's time for a force reduction. The officers at this unnamed agency clearly have too much time on their hands.