Purse Thieves and Entrapment

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Purse Thieves In an effort to curb crime against tourists on the Strip, detectives with the Tourist Crimes Unit began using high-end purses to catch thieves preying on tourists in the casinos. They place the “bait purse” on or around a chair at a slot machine and observe for someone taking the purse.

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Police implemented this program after reports of property theft appeared to be on the rise within the casinos. Representatives from the police department have stated that the creation of bait-purses have led to dozens of arrests.

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Part of the unit’s approach is to make sure to create situations where the potential thief would believe it was really someone’s purse. They do not just leave bags filled with cash. Instead, they put contents that would ordinarily be inside of a purse. Earlier, in 2006, when Las Vegas was listed as the city with the highest rate of vehicle theft, the police department implemented a similar “bait car” program in town. Since that program was implemented, it is reported that Las Vegas has dropped from its high rate of reported stolen vehicles

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Of course a big criticism of the police using these sorts of tactics is people considering this a form of entrapment. Entrapment is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit. Entrapment is also a defense against criminal liability. Essentially, it is possible that in setting these types of situations up, law enforcement is encouraging someone to engage in criminal activity that they never would have engaged in had it not been sitting right there in front of them. Additionally, the police must be very cautious to only cite or arrest people who are actually attempting to steal the purse, and not someone who is possibly taking the purse in an attempt to return it to its owner. While there can definitely be a positive effect with these types of police programs, they can also be quite risky and must be implemented carefully.


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