Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Sting" Operations in NY City

A "sting" operation is when the police create a situation in order to catch people committing a crime.  However, no real "crime" is committed.

For instance, in the past, New York Police have left bags of groceries in the subway system, and if a person picked up the groceries and tried to take them home, that person would be arrested.

So this is not really "theft" because there is no victim.  But the police claim that they can find and arrest dishonest people using this type of method.  Others who oppose (do not believe in) this tactic (method) claim that honest people make honest mistakes and then get falsely arrested. 

If you saw a bag of groceries lying around on a bench in the subway system, would you take it home?  If you saw a wallet on the ground, would you pick it up?  Be careful!  You can get arrested by the police for doing this in NY City!

Why is it called a "sting" operation?  A bee or wasp stings a person - such insects have stingers.  So I'm guessing that this type of operation is called a sting operation because people get "stung" (harmed) by the police.

It looks as if this type of procedure might have to be eliminated, however.  A judge recently determined that a woman was not guilty of such a "crime."  Very few New Yorkers believe that these NYPD sting operations should exist.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

take the bait - if you go fishing, you have to use bait to catch the fish.  A worm is often bait.  The worm is placed on a hook.  The bait is the thing that is attractive to the fish, which will make the fish swallow the hook.  So bait is anything attractive that causes a person to be caught.

anti-theft tactics - anti means "against" something.  A tactic is a strategy or method.  Theft is when someone steals something.

to criticize something -  to say negative things about something.

a stray wallet - a wallet is a little leather pouch in which a man usually carries money and credit cards and ID. A stray wallet is a "lost" wallet or a wallet that doesn't seem to belong to anyone. A stray dog is a lost dog or a dog with no home.

can do the trick - if something "does the trick," it works.  Lets say you have a headache.  Someone might say, "Please take these aspirins - they will do the trick!" 

unattended - if something is unattended, it is not being watched, or nobody who owns the object seems to be near by.

to deter something - to stop something from happening. If a person is punished for committing a crime, this punishment is supposed to deter other people from doing the same thing.

throwing out a larceny case - basically, larceny means 'theft.' If a judge throws out a case of larceny, the judge is saying that it is not a legitimate or valid or good case.  Therefore the person accused of larceny is considered innocent.

to cast a harsh light on something - to reveal that something is bad.

to sweep up innocent people - to capture or arrest people who did not do anything wrong.

she was framed - if a person is "framed," this means the person is innocent but the police have made the person look guilty.

to take the tactic way too far - to start with a wrong method and to make the method even worse

upholding the charges - a charge is an accusation of some type of wrong-doing. If charges are upheld, that means that the charges are considered valid or legitimate or right.

and rightly so - So the judge basically said that if he allows these charges to go forward in the court system, people will lose faith in the court system.  By saying, "and rightly so," he also stated that people SHOULD lose their faith in the court system if these types of charges are approved of by a judge.

to sue s/o - to take someone or some organization to court in order to get money from them (because they did something wrong).

to be traumatized - to be shocked.

a wrongful arrest -  an arrest that should not have been made.

to feel humiliated - to feel deeply ashamed because someone did something wrong to you

a brush with the law - having some type of event or situation with the law.  i.e. I had never had a brush with the law until the police office stopped my car and accused me of speeding.

had its roots in - roots means origins in this case.  Basically the first case of this type of sting operation was when the police left groceries in the subway and arrested people who picked up the groceries.

a typical scenario - a typical situation.

a plainclothes officer - a police officer who is dressed in normal clothes.

to be locked up - to be put or thrown in jail

to credit the operation with - if you credit something for something, or credit something to something, you claim that one thing caused a positive result.  We can often credit an increase in employment to a lowering of taxes.

a spike in thefts  - a quick rise in thefts.  You often see a spike in graphs.

evidence of intent -  evidence means a trace of something, or some indication that something happened.  Intent means the motive for doing something.  i.e. We don't know the murderer's intent yet, but we do know he killed three people.

an arrest - when the police take a person to their station.

stashed inside - placed inside, pushed inside

a pending case - a case which is going to be heard; a case which hasn't been heard yet

a plea bargain - when a person agrees to plead guilty (to say he is guilty) in exchange for a small punishment

a bait car - a car used as bait, a car used to attract someone who might want to steal something from inside it

to combat something - to fight against something

chronic - it won't stop, it keeps going

working class - a social class of people who work but are poor

police plant property - subject + verb + object: subject = police, verb =plant and property= object. It means that police place property at a certain location

on the stoop - on their front stairs of their building

when the sting unfolded - when the operation or event happened

to monitor - to watch closely

theater staged by the police - this was not a real event, but an event created by the police to provide 'bait' to catch a person

the officers gave chase - the officers chased after someone

peered inside - looked inside hard

a bundle of cash - a bunch or collection of cash rolled up

took them into custody - arrested them, took them to the police station

it dawned on her that - it occurred to her, she realized, she suddenly understood

"The Twilight Zone" - a TV show in which strange and unexplainable things happened

to be charged - to be formally accused of a crime, to be officially accused of a crime

petty larceny - small scale theft

fighting charges - arguing against the charges or complaint

conceded - agreed to

to appeal the judges ruling - to go beyond the judge and ask a higher judge to make a different decision

decoy cars - cars used to trick people into believing something

a bizarre attempt to set somebody up - a strange attempt to catch an innocent person; to set a person up is to frame a person

like lucky bag on steroids - "lucky bag" was the term police used for the bag of groceries they left in the subway for innocent people to pick up (so they could arrest them).  "lucky bag on steroids" means a worse or more harmful version of "lucky bag."  Steroids are substances a person can take to develop extra strong muscles.


Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

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