Connecticut Police Announce Plan To Open Unlocked Vehicles And Seize Valuables

from the WE-CARE-BECAUSE-YOU-DON'T dept

No criminal activity. No suspicion of wrongdoing. Just cops wandering around, opening car doors and seizing valuables. But they’re doing it for YOU.

Officers in East Rock (CT) are starting a pilot program.

“Cars will be checked for visible valuables,” said New Haven City Spokesperson Laurence Grotheer.

If they see a valuable Grotheer says they’ll take it if your car doors are unlocked. They’ll leave a note and you can pick it up at the police station property room.

Arguably, residents will be better off having their valuables stolen by the police rather than by criminals. But what gives cops the right to enter vehicles and take stuff? The city’s spokesperson says it’s built right into warrant exception statutes.

Grotheer says there’s a *caretaker* provision in state law that allows them to do it.

“There is an exemption in standard search warrant provisions to allow for this caretaker action,” said Grotheer.

Except that’s not really what the “caretaker” provision is for. Generally, it’s used to allow officers to approach and question motorists who appear to be in distress or enter homes in cases of medical emergencies, etc. What it’s not there for is the seizure of valuables under the assumption that someone’s poor personal decision may result in criminal activity at some undetermined point in the future.

What the exception does do is wholly separate police searches and seizures from law enforcement purposes.

Community Caretaker Function: The Courts have created a Caretaker exception under which local police officers are charged with community caretaking functions, totally divorced from the detection, investigation, or acquisition of evidence relating to violation of any criminal statute An example is checking on motorists parked in rest areas, especially in winter, or opening an unlocked door of a parked vehicle when the officer is acting out of concern for the well-being of the person inside.

This removes pesky roadblocks like “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause.” That’s why it’s routinely abused to perform warrantless searches. Several court decisions related to “community caretaking” exceptions can be found at the indispensable FourthAmendment.com.

State v. Matalonis

Even if we had determined that the police were exercising a bona fide community caretaker function when they searched Matalonis’s residence, the entry would not fall within the community caretaker exception because it fails under the third inquiry–“whether the public interest outweighs the intrusion upon the privacy of the individual such that the community caretaker function was reasonably exercised within the context of a home.”

State v. Garrison

Warrantless entry into defendant’s car at the scene of a three vehicle accident, when she was being attended to by paramedics to see if she was alright, was not legally sustainable entry under the community caretaking function because she was still there and conversing with EMTs. The officer never asked for consent to look for the papers; he just went into the car.

State v. Graham

A couple kissing in a car is not particularized suspicion that a crime is occurring or about to occur. Instead of “moving them along,” the officer detained them, and the detention was unlawful. The state’s community caretaking justification for rousting them also failed.

But as there is no clear delineation of what does or doesn’t fall under the “community caretaking” warrant exception, searches and seizures are handled on a case-by-case (and state-by-state) basis when challenged in court by criminal defendants or plaintiffs in civil rights lawsuits. So, when the city’s spokesperson says the following, it’s unfortunately very true.

Grotheer says all laws are open to interpretation.

And most interpretations will favor law enforcement, who have a multitude of exceptions, including the incredibly expansive “good faith” exception, to insulate them against allegations of misusing their power.

The program raises several questions, most of which will remain unanswered as the New Haven police have chosen to speak solely through the city’s spokesperson.

First: Do the searches only implicate valuables visible through windows? Or are officers digging around in vehicles like the thieves they’re “saving” citizens from, reaching under seats, opening storage consoles or peeking in the glove compartment?

Second: If the police are simply emulating thieves, would this supposed “community caretaking” function allow them to seize vehicles if ignition keys are present in unlocked automobiles? If not, WHY NOT?

Third: What does the department define as a “valuable” for the purposes of its warrantless entry into unlocked vehicles? Is it simply wallets, checkbooks, credit cards or electronic devices? Or does it cover anything someone could conceivably take, like clothing, groceries or anything else that might be found in plain sight?

Fourth: Would this same exception allow officers to check for unlocked house doors and remove valuables from residences? Would this also allow the fire department to enter unlocked homes if a firefighter spotted oily rags or frayed cords or whatever through an open window?

As long as the city is going to “interpret” this exception to enter vehicles and seize valuables, it should at least maintain its consistency across all other areas. Crossing into a person’s home generally raises Fourth Amendment issues faster than unlocked vehicles on public streets, but considering the exception cited by the city is more frequently used to provide warrantless access to residences, it would only make sense for cops to go door-to-door to save citizens from their own careless actions.

I have reached out to both the city and police department for more clarification but I’m not expecting any answers. My guess is this program will be shut down sometime in the next few days. The city has hugely miscalculated the public’s receptiveness to its warrantless search and seizure “public service.” When it does get shut down, it will likely be accompanied by complaints about the public’s lack of gratitude towards its ever-vigilant public servants. But like so many other ill-conceived efforts made on the “behalf” of the public, it appears to have been done without any consideration of the public’s concerns.

UPDATE: No answers to the questions, but city spokesperson Laurence Grotheer informs me the program is now officially dead.

Thank you for reaching out about this…

After unanticipated press coverage sufficiently raised community awareness about this issue, NHPD plans for this initiative have been shelved…

Thanks again…

Laurence…

Yeah, it sucks when the people find out about the things the government plans to do to them for their own safety. The wording of Grotheer’s statement is very peculiar. He obviously supported the program during earlier statements to the same press he didn’t anticipate would turn it into a “thing,” but trots out the phrase “community awareness” as though he’s never used it in this context before. “Community awareness” is always a good thing (and should precede implementation of dubious programs rather than follow behind it) but in this bizarre sentence, it’s almost portrayed as the unfortunate byproduct of an apparent press ambush.

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Comments on “Connecticut Police Announce Plan To Open Unlocked Vehicles And Seize Valuables”

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74 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes, that’s one positive view of it.

Unfortunately, this can also be abused as a “searching for drugs without a warrant” opportunity.

It effectively results in any vehicle with its doors unlocked being a target for police examination. Then, when they discover a small stash of contraband of any sort, they can fall back on stating that they were just attempting to secure valuables when they stumbled across the contraband.

I’m not sure whether it’s good or not, but this would likely have been used in a targeted manner (as in, Mick is suspected of possession of contraband, so we’ll just keep an eye on his car, and search through it whenever he leaves it unlocked).

I do know of situations where drug drops are done by parking a car and leaving it for a few minutes with the door unlocked and the drugs in the glove box — the recipient comes along and takes the drugs and replaces them with cash. Seems stupid to me (someone watching could step in and take both the drugs AND the money) but hey…. With this method, the police could be the ones to take both the drugs and the money, with a nice note asking the car owner to come in to pick up the money.

So yeah; not quite sure how I feel about this, but the ramifications for abuse are large enough that I think it’s a good thing the program was banned. Better to just get a warrant.

On the other hand, I’d have no problem with the police LOCKING my vehicle if they find it unlocked, as long as the keys aren’t inside. But then, to lock it, they’d have to enter it, at which point they’ve got the excuse to look around. In my case, I’d be more worried about them getting animal hair, perfume or dirt on the inside of the car, but it’s still an invasion of privacy.

Quiet Lurcker says:

Re: Re: Re:

…[A]ny vehicle with its doors unlocked being a target for police examination. Then, when they discover a small stash of contraband of any sort, …

Who’s to say, they even have to find anything? After all, they can and apparently do cue drug dogs to ‘indicate’ drugs when there are none. Cop opens the door on an unlocked car, and that bag of contraband which he had taken out of his pocket just happens to fall into the car. Next thing you know, “Well hey, what have we got here? DRUGS??? Gonna have to have a talk with that boy?”

Course, this is trumped by an even scarier scenario: Joe Homeowner wakes up in the middle of the night, sees a dark-clad form poking around in the car he’s got parked in his drive way, gets his .357, takes careful aim and pulls the trigger.

Anonymous Coward says:

Or, you know, cops could just hide the valuables from sight and then lock the car doors so that criminals couldn’t see the valuables or easily get into the cars… And then the cops can claim to not be on the hook when they lock people out of their cars and a locksmith has to be called in the cold of winter and dead of night.

So yeah, best that they just canceled the program altogether.

Anonymous Coward says:

WHAT IN THE FUCKING HELL!

The documentary Busted made with the collaboration of the ACLU is now null and void in Connecticut…I thought that was a liberal state?

I expected such from Georgia, my excuses to any good person in Georgia, but it is what it is.

I’m so glad the Canadian “Patriot” Act is going to be severly amended by the new government to the point of meaninglessness.

This is unbelievable. Connecticut should secede from your union if it wants to implement such total fascism.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

The documentary Busted made with the collaboration of the ACLU is now null and void in Connecticut…I thought that was a liberal state?

In Connecticut, BB guns are subject to the same laws as real guns and carrying one off your property can get you charged with felony possession of a weapon. Not so liberal…

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s amazing that Connecticut would be so anti-gun, considering that this tiny state serves as the center of the US firearms industry.

Not so much anymore. A couple years ago, Connecticut passed some strict anti-gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Colt recently filed for bankruptcy.

Assault rifles and “large capacity magazines” are now illegal, unless purchased before a certain date and registered by a certain date (which has now passed). Nobody can now legally buy an assault rifle or bring one into the state (even if it’s legally owned), and you now need a state permit to buy any type of gun, or even ammunition. You don’t need a permit to keep a previously owned handgun/normal rifle, nor do you need to register it, but there are strict laws about transporting it without a permit (like to a firing range). The gun and ammunition can’t be in the same compartment of the car, nor can the gun be loaded, even if it’s locked in the trunk. You’re only allowed to carry a gun on private property with the permission of the property owner. And even with a concealed carry permit, cops will freak out if they realize someone is armed.

All other types of weapons are illegal to carry in public; Swords, clubs, stun guns, nunchucks, throwing stars, BB/pellet guns, paintball guns, or a knife with a blade over 3″. Curiously it’s not illegal to own a switchblade or spring-loaded knife, you just can’t carry it in public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Look, I’m Canadian, that supposedly (again) Liberal nordic-like (and literally) country, and i’ve shot .20 gauge and .410 gauge at cans in a sandy field when I was a teen and we are Liberal as in, the real sense of Liberal, ya know. Not that epithet invented in the 90’s by rush and other idiots telling people how to live as they wake up in the morning.

New England is just south of me and Connecticut is the only state from it I’ve never been to. But I doubt Maine or New Hampshire and even upstate NY would have such crazy laws about BB Guns (feel free to correct me).

When a law seems dictatorial to a Canadian, Americans should take notice

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Our Liberals aren’t like liberals anywhere else on the planet.

Above all else, Liberals want change from the status quo. In most places, this is a move towards increased freedom, since the government is totalitarian in nature.

But our Liberals aren’t like your liberals. Here in the US, the basis of all of our laws is that anything not specifically prohibited is completely legal — and we have strong Constitutional protections that keep some types of prohibitions from being made at all.

So our Conservatives are generally pro-freedom while our Liberals realize they can’t force people to be just like them unless they get rid of some of those freedoms.

Our Liberals would be Conservatives anywhere else on the planet.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

What does one call it when the cops take your stuff for safety, but ‘forget’ to leave the note?

Another question is, how long does the car have to be unlocked, is the minute or two to pay for your gas enough?

What if you leave the car unlocked in your driveway?

I bet there are lots more questions, and this is a state where the state police have a blue light on at all times so they cannot hide from you, or at least they used to have to.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s why you treat them like any other thief.

Buy an exploding dye pack just like the banks use. Install a small transmitter in your car to keep the dye pack happy. Buy a theater-prop cash bundle, and insert the dye pack. Now leave that little bundle of joy out of sight under the seat in an unlocked car parked near the police station that is doing these sorts of ‘security’ sweeps.

As soon as the cop/thief gets 20 feet away from the car, there’s this loud BANG and they’re coated head to toe with permanent brightly colored dye that is as hard to remove as sharpie marker ink.

Some dye packs even include tear gas in addition to the dye, for extra oomph. And the best part is, they’re one hundred percent legal, since if they weren’t then banks couldn’t use them either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Little problem with the cop-thief having your plate number: you find yourself getting pulled over for “erratic driving” a lot. You eventually find yourself pulled over on a deserted country road, the cop finds his dash-cam to be malfunctioning, and you find yourself “making a furtive movement towards your waistband”.

crade (profile) says:

“After unanticipated press coverage sufficiently raised community awareness about this issue, NHPD plans for this initiative have been shelved… “

At first, I thought this to be a refreshingly honest quote. Normally they would want to claim the negative reaction was unanticipated, not that the awareness was unanticipated. He is actually admitting they knew people would hate the idea and they hoped to slide it under the radar.

But then I read it again with my cynic glasses on and realized he is probably trying to claim that the press coverage “raised the awareness” such that people are now aware that they shouldn’t be leaving their valuables unattended, so the initiative has already been successful (cue patting ourselves on the back)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That was pretty much my take on it. He’s trying to imply that the press coverage raised sufficient awareness of the dangers of leaving valuables unlocked in your car that the police no longer feel the need for the initiative.

I expect the reality was they received universally negative coverage and feedback(a combination of people demanding to know what the hell the cops thought gave them the right to burglarize people’s cars, promises/threats of lawsuits should the police burglarize someone’s car in that manner, and promises/threats of bodily harm to any policeman caught burglarizing someone’s car) and decided discretion was the better part of valor. Or alternatively that the small amount of cash and valuables they expected to be able to steal in this manner wasn’t going to be worth it, and all the press coverage would warn any drug users to lock their car doors, rendering that benefit moot as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Away from car?

You aren’t there for a civil forfeiture? Don’t worry, we will get the “pennies from heaven” anyway. Thank you very much for leaving that rather obviously hidden money under your seat. You are welcome to pick it up for a small fee and a thank you because we saved your money from being stolen.

David says:

Re: Away from car?

You are welcome to pick it up for a small fee

Uh, no? There are going to be questions asked, and your answers will be suspicious, making your valuables suspected of being involved in something illegal. I mean, those valuables have been caught red-handed breaking and entering into your car. Are you sure that is rightfully your car? It seems like an accomplice to your valuables’ misdeeds so we better take it as well if you continue this racket.

sorrykb (profile) says:

A Modest Proposal

I predict that officials are now going to say they never were serious about the program, but just wanted to shock people into awareness of the problem of not safeguarding their valuables.

I’d be inclined to disbelieve such an assertion, but if I were in charge of putting a positive spin on this, and I didn’t mind lying, it’s the approach I’d recommend.

ambrellite (profile) says:

“After unanticipated press coverage sufficiently raised community awareness about this issue, NHPD plans for this initiative have been shelved… “

With these kinds of idiots in charge, you can imagine how quickly things could get out of hand if law enforcement programs, policies, and interpretations of the law were kept secret, especially on the national level.

Oh, wait…

Anonymous Coward says:

The question that comes to my mind, is how many of these events will wind up with the note on the window, the goods just disappearing without a trace?

We’ve lots of evidence that cops will lie when it suits their cause in courts. Lots of evidence that people will die when they get the wrong info on a no knock warrant on occasion. What makes anyone think their valuables will always be safe if cops are allowed to break and enter?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually…nah, getting out of your car if a cops asks to and swiftly locking your door is a great way to get out of a messy situation. No need to start pointing out your cell phone camera, that ACLU documentary I mention called Busted, a lot of people should watch. It’s probably on Youtube. 3 kind of situations where they show you how to react to prevent unwarranted search and seizure. A cop can’t start opening your car’s doors. Of course some dipshits will freak out and kill a guy, but generally, just saying “It’s a habit, so, Officer, is there a problem? If not I’d prefer to go.” in case the cop notices you locking your door as you get out. They might not like it but the vast majority will still test you and if you hold your ground and know your rights, you most likely will just piss him off and he’ll let you go.I agree the stories (and the stuff that’s not reported is really out of control but they’re not acting like the Gestapo…yet.

I’m glad that in Canada, cops need to go to college and even take Calculus I and a lot of thinking-related classes for 3 years before they can even put a feet in the Academia, which they can fail. Their diploma becomes a security guard diploma. P.I if they’re brighter than average. But here in Canada what I noticed is the vast increase of private security guards (who cannot be armed) but still cause people not to be able to relax outside on the campus of the local college in my town and maybe have a joint with friends past 8 pm without one of them, mostly women so not to escalate things, asking you to leave the premises even if you have a student card from said college and the doors/classes end at 10 pm.

Also tall imposing all black wearing with a white SECURITY Impact font in the back of a security guard in a SUPERMARKET. Only one in my town acts this way, but it’s a major turn off and I only go there when they really have a great bargain on something I want, otherwise, it doesn’t feel right. Thank you, Harper and your 9 years of terror. He messed with our country so bad that I still have post-election issues with him, especially the fucking community boxes. At least Trudeau put a stop to these, but those who just got em, like me, 2 weeks before the elections, will have to keep them, should have done like the courageous people of Newfoundland who stood on the dirt where those disgrace of a box were to be installed blocking the way.

CanadaPost actually made a profit last year. Which they will have lost entirely from having those boxes made and installed, that’s gonna a hell lot. At least one kind of package is still delivered home, those needing a signature. Heh, I went on a huge tangent sorry guys.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Vechicles without locks........

Before about 1970, American-made cars did not even have a lockable engine compartment, so anyone walking by could just bend over, pop open the hood/bonnet and help themselves to engine parts. But apparently no one ever did, at least not until some 6 decades after the Model T came out, when inner-city crime suddenly exploded.

Anonymous Coward says:

Huh, the story you first linked to has an update reading “City Attorney John Rose has advised New Haven police not to move forward with the pilot program.”, and a new title of “City Attorney calls off New Haven PD pilot program”.

I wonder if the city attorney heard about the plan from the PD ahead of time, or if he first learned about it from the news?

jimb (profile) says:

What about my dope under the seat...

Ok, so I left my laptop on the seat, and the cops opened up the car and ‘saved’ if from being stolen. But while they were in there without a warrant “caretaking”, they saw my stash sticking out from under the seat… what happens? I was sitting in my living room when the cops walked in the door, “caretaking” without a warrant… I was watching Fox “News” and cleaning my guns, which I happen to have a machine gun, not registered of course. The cops saw my gun collection and expressed interest… What happens now?

I can see a lot of problems with the proposed ordinance besides just “attracting a lot of unanticipated press coverage.” Like voiding a big part of the Constitution. How long before some police agency somewhere tries this again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Terrible idea, obviously. Of COURSE there would be “administrative fees” to get your stuff back. Not to mention this scenario:

I’m a small business owner and am on my way to the bank to deposit $2k in cash. I stash the envelope under the seat while I make a quick stop at the store. Along comes a “caretaker” who sees a corner of the envelope and decides to save me from it. When I go to pick up my money from the station, they decide to waive the fee because I’m such a good citizen. However, when I open the envelope, there’s only $1k inside. What do I do? What recourse do I have?

None. The “caretaker” was looking out for my best interests and I’m now trying to extort money from the police department. Who do you think will be believed?

If you think the story above is too far-fetched, you haven’t read enough TechDirt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rule of law - heh, yeah right

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

Anonymous Coward says:

hatchback dangers

A big problem for many people is that they drive cars that do not have a separate (accessible from the outside only) trunk. That means that they become criminals every time they have to transport many everyday items, such as (resealed) alcoholic beverages, which are illegal to carry in a hatchback vehicle.

psiuu says:

Re: hatchback dangers

Depends on the state, and if they’ve updated laws over the years, of course, but not always true.

In Michigan, as an example, the gun laws (outside of concealed carry) allow for hatchbacks – more or less “inaccessible” is the key (along with locked up and unloaded, generally). If they tried arguing the rear hatch area of our Pontiac Vibe was accessible, I’d be going in front of a jury and having them explain to the jury why it was that different from a trunk, and how accessible it really was.

Padpaw (profile) says:

The question is will the police turn locked vehicles into unlocked ones to justify rifling through them. How many of those valuables will vanish along the way to the station to be recorded and put in a safe place for the owner?

Is cash going to be considered an easily misplaced item that will more often than not end up conviently forgotten in the officers pockets?

Sworn American says:

High Up On the Hill

Police are to be getting these abusive powers granted to them by new world order politicos who have no loyalty to Americans, but seem to be more than willing to use the police to lie cheat and steal, and occasionally shoot someone in the back. Don’t blame everything on the police themselves. They are just following orders.

Sworn American says:

Calling 911

Wouldn’t it be ironic if people had to start calling the Hell’s Angels because they fear a crime is about to be perpetrated by the police? They could start a bumper sticker or poster campaign decrying, “Don’t Leave Valuables In Your Vehicles.” Don’t they like using school kids for such programs? That would be better response for the community’s sake, NOT pissing off every taxpayer… Good Golly.

keithzg (profile) says:

"sufficiently raised community awareness"

Sounds kindof like the city spokeperson wasn’t a fan either, and might be relieved that the police were forced to back down.

Hollywood depictions aside, the police often have a fair bit of political clout that might be hard to go against depending on the circumstance—or the spokesperson might just be personally relieved that an obviously problematic plan was scrapped, even if just for avoiding how much of a target of citizen ire they might’ve logically expected to become.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is terrible for dogs

I’ve often left my car parked for a few minutes with my dog in it — nice day, not too hot, windows rolled down (of course), some shade, etc.

She thinks this is fabulous because she loves being in the car. I think this is fabulous because she loves being there so much that she won’t jump out. And then I come back from the cash machine or the dry cleaners and we’re on our way.

Except…what if a cop spots a “valuable” inside my UNLOCKED car and decides to do something about it?

Every possible way this ends is horrible. The most likely outcome is that cop shoots my dog, claims that she attacked him, takes my stuff, files criminal or civil charges against me for the “attack” that never happened, and tries to charge me for my own stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: cops are criminals

The largest multinational gang of them all, larger than the Hell’s Angels (hell, they are literally partners at the highest levels at times. Oh yeah, I’d have to specify the Hell’s aren’t a joke like in the US here in Canada and also in Scandinavia. There’s wikipedia articles about some pretty long spanning decades biker wars with corrupt cops being part of the whole thing.

John85851 (profile) says:

Who are these people?

Who are the people responsible for this and why did they think there wouldn’t be a backlash?

Did did they really think the public would approve of paying for police officers to check (and rob) unlocked cars rather than doing traditional police work? Don’t the police have enough to do than to wander around a parking lot or people’s driveways?

And I agree with one of the previous posters: what’s going to happen when a homeowners hears his car alarm go off at 3:00am and finds someone robbing his car? Chances are good that he’s going to shoot before the officer can explain that he’s being robbed for his own good.

However, this also sounds like yet another example of the old “Let’s pass a law that blatantly defies the US constitution. We know the state supreme court will invalidate the law, but it’ll take a few years and that gives us plenty of time to do what we want”.

Votre says:

Here we go again

I live in CT so this sort of BS doesn’t surprise me.

Once again a small time official starts grandstanding for a little press. I have to remind myself it’s an election year so the usual childishness on the part of public officials is going to start up again.

P.S. East Rock is a neighborhood in the city of New Haven. It’s not even a real town. And it certainly isn’t a bellwether for the entire state. Our local police departments pride themselves on originality when it comes to stupidity and arbitrary enforcement abuses.

twolaneflash says:

Rights vs Privileges

If Government can take it away from you, it’s a Privilege, not a Right.

This on-its-face unlawful seizure of personal property for the non-crime of being visible in a private vehicle smacks of Big Brother thinking the People need to be taught a lesson. I see you taking stuff out of my vehicle, uniform or not, you’ll meet my little 9mm friend, thief.

There is a video on the internet of LEOs from 3 jurisdictions in TN almost having a brawl over who was going to seize a poor traveler’s cash. It is common practice in TN for an out-of-state traveler to have his cash seized during a traffic stop, declared ill-gotten gains, requiring a return to TN and a lawyer to prove the money is clean. Few people return and put their necks in the noose twice for a few hundred or even thousands of dollars. It’s been a great local and state revenue enhancer, but not so much for tourism.

Anonymous Coward says:

maybe a year ago a youngster’s bicycle turned up in my yard out near the street. it lay there overnight and was still there noon the following day.

at some point i was outside and noted a pickup driver going slow and looking at the bike. when he noticed me, he lost interest and moved on. i realized i had to do something with the bike.

so i put it in my vehicle and carried it to the local police station. the cop was pleasant but i swear i felt afterward that i might understand what a rape victim feels like. i don’t know what i’ll do if some similar happens again, but i don’t think going to the police is an option.

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