Police trick people into buying "stolen" iPhones, then arrest them

Here's Ted Balaker's latest video about questionable police practices.

If a shady character stops you on the streets of San Francisco and tries to sell you a stolen iPhone or iPad, he just might be a cop.

San Francisco Police Department officers are going undercover to peddle "stolen" Apple devices, and whoever takes the bait gets taken down (by five cops no less!).

"If they steal the phone but can't sell it, there's no market," says San Francisco Police Capt. Joe Garrity. "We're cutting the head off the snake."

Around the time the SFPD was cooking up its iPhone task force, The San Francisco Examiner revealed that the department had more than 1,000 unsolved murders and about 900 unsolved rapes on its hands. A year later, San Francisco Attorney General George Gascon, who was police chief at the time of the revelation, told a reporter he had "forgot" about his department's unfinished business.


    1. Enforcing minor crime and major crime are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and the whole philosophy of law enforcement in general is complicated and unresolved (see, we are still debating  this after thousands of years of human civilization).

      It sounds like this particular law enforcement activity is a waste of time and money.

      On the other hand… one of my guilty pleasures… I LOVE stings, and people complaining about getting caught doing things they know they shouldn’t is delicious. I did some reading on other sites in search of delightfully self-excusing quotes from the public, and I was not disappointed.

      But…There are lots of legitimate criticisms of this policy so I won’t derail this further.

          1. “I used to like to joke with people that Sting was like the father I never had.  The father I DID have was supportive, kindly, genial….”  — Stewart Copeland in a 2010 Studio360 interview.

          2. Antinous posts a pic of Sting in a tight, leather suit, and you think he’s talking about music?  Oh, my.

          3. That was the least idiotic image that I could find. I’d forgotten how ridiculous he looked in that film.

      1. If they gave a shit, they ought to worry more about all the stolen phones on Craigslist or eBay, or following up on Find My iPhone information.

    2. Crime rates are at the lowest they’ve been in decades. This is makework in order to create an image of crime so that nobody realizes there are too many police.

      1. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in San Francisco I know a disturbing number of people who have been full on mugged for their cellphones. Guns, knives, pushed against fences in dark streets, lots of scary stuff like that. Its a full on epidemic here. You can say the police are going about this in a heavy handed way, but you can’t say there’s no problem with stolen cellphones, at least not in San Francisco.

          1. …who all carry signs, and are easy to identify.

            This is a clumsy and badly done approach, but not a stupid one.  People who buy stolen iphones enable iphone theft and mugging, in roughly the same way that settling with patent trolls enables mass extortion campaigns.

          2. Blizzard perma-bans any WoW player who is caught buying gold from a gold seller.  Stepping on enough buyers puts the fear of God into anyone contemplating buying it. 

            Maybe it will work with the iPhones. But I doubt it.

          3. Demand-side enforcement, I think we’ve seen how well that works in The War On (your choice).

    3.  No, you see- this is safe, easy and pays the same as doing useful work for society.

  1. What exactly is the crime committed? Receiving stolen goods or something similar? Is it against the law to buy something from a street vendor?

        1. You would think, wouldn’t you? But it seems like trying – but failing – to commit a crime, is a crime. IANAL so I’m not sure just how that works. Just don’t buy stolen goods, k?

          1. But it seems like trying – but failing – to commit a crime, is a crime. 

            Yep. Just ask all those Muslim supposed- terrorist-wannabes that the Feds are entrapping and shipping off to prison these days.

          2. Actually I was thinking of the perverts who think they’re talking dirty to teenagers when it’s actually the po-po. The crime is purely hypothetical, but the prosecution isn’t.

        2. There may be no actus reus for the charge of receiving stolen goods, but a charge of (wonderfully nebulous) criminal conspiracy might stick.

      1. it generally isn’t entrapment unless the cop coerces the mark (this of course does happen) or otherwise induces him unreasonably. the rule is something like “if the law acts to cause the target to commit a crime he otherwise would likely not, then it’s entrapment.”

        in this case, as long as the cops were just offering the iphone at normal street prices, it’s not entrapment. if they instead conducting the sting by pretending to give away “free” stolen iphones, entrapment could be argued. exactly where the cut-off is, is of course subjective. it’s a little funny here because the cheaper the offer, the more obvious that it’s stolen, while “free” seems like a different thing.

        in one case, a sting operation was ruled entrapment when police left a mountain of cash in an open suburban garage and waited for someone to come try to nick it.

          1. what? it isn’t a “comparison.” it’s just an example of entrapment.

            the whole POINT of entrapment is that even though the victim committed a crime, they were compelled to do so by unreasonable circumstances. it was found that leaving that much cash in clear view is so unusual that it would compel a “normal person” to commit a crime.

            i don’t personally care to debate the ruling, so don’t bother.

        1.  If the undercover police are approaching people and asking whether they want to buy a phone, that’s coercion right there, yes? People would have to approach the cops and ask to buy for it to be otherwise, e.g. if the cop had a variety of used phones set out on a folding table or a blanket on the ground.

          1. no, it really isn’t. have you ever lived in a major city? criminal resellers actively push their wares all the time; a reasonable person has a responsibility to say “no,” or just ignore them.

            in general, “the big mean man threatened me by offering to sell me a phone” isn’t going to fly.

          2. Do customers now have a burden of responsibility to verify the authenticity and legality of the vendors they do business with?

            If so then I want consumer insurance.

            Or is the principle here that the vendor states that the items are stolen? If that’s the case it’s admittedly a little different. Otherwise the police are just conning people.

          3. @NathanHornby:disqus : To some extent. If you are a consumer and you paid for stolen goods without knowing they are stolen, then you won’t be charged with a crime. But the goods will be returned to the owner and you will not be compensated for what you spent. And if the state thinks it can get a charge or a plea agreement to stick, they are going to try, which may cost you serious money. The lesson is that you probably want to verify the authenticity of vendors because doing otherwise can really screw you over.

    1. Receiving stolen goods is generally a crime.

      I’d be interested to know(as, I suspect, might some defense attorneys) exactly how the police plant establishes that it is ‘stolen'(since selling used goods for cheap is still legal, for the moment).

      Do they explicitly say that the goods are hot(which presumably no actual shady vendor would do)? Is there some ‘prices higher than this are deals; but anything lower has to be a crime’ price point for various iDevices?

    2. The crime committed is ‘knowingly’ receiving stolen goods, which this video conveniently glosses over. These aren’t ‘innocent people’. They’ve been fully informed that the goods they are purchasing are stolen before the police make the arrest.

      The location is important as well here. Apple has figured out that the locations in question are generally where stolen iphones in these cities are sold.. meaning that it’s an established marketplace for illicit goods. By making that location suspect, they hope to reduce the market for stolen goods.

      The rape mentions are just convenient distractions from the basically baseless accusations and strawman case that the video tries to make.

      The fact that it’s on BoingBoing is reprehensible on BoingBoing’s part.

      1.  I’m assuming it’s the same in the States as here in the UK though, and you can have your stolen phone blocked with its IMEI number? I know this is far from a completely effective solution, but one kind of assumes that folks who are mugging people for smartphones don’t have the kind of nous needed to reactivate blocked handsets.

      2. Well, after reading that article I feel so much better about the tactics being employed by these fine officers!

        Garrity’s team is accustomed to undercover work. For years, his officers wandered the streets wearing tattered clothing, reeking of alcohol and slurring their speech. They asked homeless people for cigarettes and arrested those who grabbed at the $20 bills they purposely dangled from their breast pockets.

      1. You don’t think that the Koch brothers love cops? Look at the history of labor strikes in the US.

  2. There are important reasons to stop cell phone theft. Cell phone robbery has been increasing, and people have been assaulted and in some cases shot and killed by the robbers. Nonetheless, the SFPD’s thought process is flawed. Even if they dry up the market for stolen cell phones in San Francisco, that doesn’t mean that cell phones can’t be criminally exported, much like high-end cars are. I’d be curious to know how many cell phones that are stolen in San Francisco are resold domestically vs. exported to China and elsewhere.

    1. According to Mashable, stopping the foreign export is the whole point. http://mashable.com/2013/04/29/san-francisco-stolen-iphones-sting/

      1. Wow, this is quite a different story than what was presented in the video above. Based on this story, the SFPD isn’t trying to trick people on the street into buying phones, but trying to trick middlemen to fencing the goods. There is a big difference here.

        1. I had the same reaction, ‘Whoa!’. I posted a link to the huffpo article further down.

        2. Reason Magazine is withholding facts to present a biased narrative supporting their ideology? No, it can’t be!

          1. Exactly. I get sad every time I see BB shilling for them by posting another one of their videos.

        3. If this is the case, shouldn’t Mark Frauenfelder issue a retraction? The story is very misleading and, to make matters worse, it concerns an issue which most deserves honest analysis.

    2. There’s one way to both stop stolen phones from being exported and discourage theft: Bricking them. ‘Course, reducing theft would mean that far fewer replacement phones would be sold. SFPD is so far up Apple’s butt they should wear tshirts and offer snide tech advice.

  3. Was the guy who tried to grab my iPad on the #48 bus a cop too? I hope I don’t get in trouble for hanging on to it.

  4. So… they’ve solved all the real crimes (‘scuse me… just trying to get my head around this), and now feel lost and useless, so they are encouraging members of the public to commit crime… um, to re-establish equilibrium? Something, something, everybody wins!?

  5. I looked at the huffington post article most of the other online coverage cites: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/26/police-sting-stolen-iphones_n_3138609.html

    A few points lost in the video here at boingboing:
    1. The police claim to be going after ‘middle men’ who are distributors in an international market, not the direct thief-to-customer sales you see on craigslist.
    2. The undercover is selling ‘new in box’ phones.
    3. The undercover admits to stealing the phones, so it isn’t as if you will innocently run into this.

    Now, this doesn’t mean the HuffPro’s sources were accurate, or that this policy is a good idea even if it is… but it gives the flavor a different story, to think the police are after professionals and not just thrifty people with bad decision making skills.

    1. That does paint a whole different picture than:
      “Hey buddy, wanna buy a phone?”
      “Um, okay.”

  6. I like this idea – remove the market for stolen iPhones.  It is a endemic of late and is a huge expense for people.  If cops can decrease this particular theft by just 10%, it would save a lot of headaches and money for the average Joe.  I’ve had stuff stolen before and it was quickly sold to others who knew it was stolen.  Both are equally at fault and both are criminals.

  7. I’m no fan of “questionable police practices” but, as someone who was robbed of a brand-new iPad (it was ripped violently out of my hands in the NYC subway), I do approve of this campaign, *provided* the “sellers” are actually making it clear to the prospective buyer that the goods are (supposedly)  stolen.  (This is a really important point as it’s of course not illegal to buy things from a street vendor.  I’m fairly confident the police are not screwing this part up as it’d be hard to get convictions otherwise, making the whole action pointless.)Knowingly receiving stolen goods is a crime (and the height of assholery).  The ready market for stolen goods is the only thing that makes robbery and theft profitable. As usual, many will cry “entrapment,” but please note: this is *not* entrapment  at all — at least not unless the undercover cops are running down the street pestering unwilling passers-by to buy until they finally give in.  I suspect the people being caught here are only to willing to get a deal on a “hot” iPhone.   Entrapment is inducing someone to commit a crime that they wouldn’t ordinarily commit, not taking advantage of someone’s greed by providing an opportunity to act in a criminal manner. This is analogous to undercover police posing as prostitutes or drug dealers.  I actually *disapprove* of sting operations in those areas, but that is because I believe that prostitution and drugs should be legal, not because I believe that sting operations are inherently wrong.

    1. The HuffPo article paints them as consciously straddling the line between sting and entrapment:

      After brief small talk, Lee tells buyers that he is selling iPhones that he stole from a nearby Apple store. He never suggests a price, in order to avoid the appearance of entrapment, he says. Instead, he invites buyers to make him an offer.

      Also, sometimes they have to throw out the arrest because the informant failed to mention the phone was stolen:

      But the police find a problem with their bust: Lee never told the man in the suit that the iPhone he was buying was stolen. They have to let him go.

      Garrity explains later that the undercover stings “are hit or miss sometimes,” but he defends the strategy. “It’s been successful,” he says. “If we just sit back and do nothing, they’d be down at Seventh and Market in droves. We have to do something to address this problem.”

      The article also mentions a 20-year-old who bought a phone after the informant, claiming to need money for Christmas presents, insisted he buy the phone. The charges were dropped. This appears to be a scattershot approach in lieu of formulating an effective strategy for dealing with phone theft. I imagine it’s popular because it pads crime rates, thereby justifying budget increases.

      1. I have a great idea.  Why don’t they go to “Seventh and Market” and arrest the “droves” of stolen iphone sellers?

        1. Because they would have to record all the conversations of the sellers/buyers for evidence. They can’t arrest anybody unless they can prove that the suspect knew they were buying stolen goods.

          Also, because you wouldn’t be able to catch them like that. At 7th and Market they would be able to see that shit coming a mile away.

          1. Which kinda plays straight in to the point that they’re too lazy to deal with actual crime , and would really rather just make shit up.

          2. How is that?  A couple of undercovers wired for sound/video couldn’t wrap up the entire market in a couple hours?  I’m not buying it.

          3. Because they would all disappear at the first sign of trouble. That intersection has too much visibility for them to be able to round people up, that’s why they hang out there in the first place. It’s just a street corner, not a bazaar.

          4. So you’re saying it’s not a violation to just be in possession of stolen goods? 

      2. I have no real moral problem with arresting people who agree to buy a phone after it has been clearly stated that it has been stolen.  I DO have a fiscal problem with this.  WTF is the point?  Why the hell are you wasting police time on this?  It isn’t like it is going to impact demand for stolen phones, and it isn’t like you are dragging criminals off the street.  You are just catching boring old citizens who exercise flexible morality for a few moments to stretch out their paycheck a little.  If that is the best use of police resources, it is time to take an axe to the police budget.  This rates only a step above having police sit around being payed over time to eat donuts and drink coffee while offering “protection” and “traffic assistant” at construction sites.

        1. Because, to the police involved, going after the tough crimes (such as their backlog of unsolved murders and rapes) is high-risk, low-reward; they would have to interview witnesses, gather evidence, follow leads, develop theories, etc., and since probably most of teh cases are cold, the chances are good that they won’t be solved, regardless of the effort expended. On the other hand, setting up a sting with fencing stolen goods is low-risk, high reward–after all, they know exactly when and where the alleged crime will happen, assuming that someone takes the bait. Whether or not it actually makes the city a safer place is secondary to registering a high number of arrests. 

    2. How is it not entrapment to sell someone something illegal and then arrest them for having said illegal item? With or without running, asking if I want to buy something is pestering. Is entrapment. (With prostitutes, doesn’t the john have to make the proposition in order for it not to be entrapment?)

      Perhaps you’re hurt because of your own mugging and are looking for some sort of payback? If you can’t hurt the guy that Apple Picked ™ your iPad back then someone, anyone similar, should suffer instead. Your comment makes me wonder if any of the people they busted were trying to buy back something that was stolen from them?

    3.  Worse than that, we have a local case where they snatched an iPad from a 16 year old.  He resisted and ended up falling under the wheels of the truck.  At least the police caught the murderers.

  8. Going after the middle men is a good start, but what many people fail to realize is that stolen phones can be monetized multiple ways: resold on the black market domestically or internationally, chopped for parts, used for online fraud, used for warranty fraud, and used for identity theft.  

    Any law enforcement or industry counter-punches that do not comprehensively address ALL of these ways to turn phones into money are just playing a game of whack-a-mole with the frausters, who quickly adapt to what law enforcement or Samsung or Apple does to try to defeat them.

    This is why stings like San Francisco’s or manufacturers blocking stolen phones from being re-activated will fail as a strategy.  As long as the components inside are still worth hundreds of dollars, or the device can be unbricked in another country, there will only be a temporary gain for the good guys followed by another spike in thefts as the criminals adapt.

    Comprehensive approaches with international cooperation between governments and manufacturers is needed.  

    1. I want to see data on phone thieves. Are they common street thugs who simply resell the phone in the city? Or is it an international crime ring of phone-grabbers who export a stolen phone the moment they get one? 

      Bricking a phone will kill the market for the first group. I have my doubts about the size of the second group.

  9. “If they steal the phone but can’t sell it, there’s no market,” says San Francisco Police Capt. Joe Garrity. “We’re cutting the head off the snake.”

    Hmm. Seems to me cutting the head off the snake would be arresting the people who steal the phones.  By contrast, this sting stuff later in the pipeline to nab would-be buyers is much more like cutting the asshole off the snake… removing the snake’s ability to digest what it’s eaten.
    But at least it’s another great day for police thuggery.

    1. Seems to me cutting the head off the snake would be arresting the people who steal the phones.

      That might be dangerous, you big silly.

    2. At first I thought they might be cutting the feet off the snake. But at least it’s been established that the buyers have to know the phone is “stolen.”

    3. Going after buyers is not cutting the head off the snake; it’s cutting the tail off, and only very small bit of it. 

      Cops should not be allowed to make statements to the press: they fuck up their colloquialisms ten times out of nine. 

  10. So if you find yourself in San Francisco and someone tries to sell you an iThingy on the street, look them dead in the eye and say “Officer, isn’t there a rape or murder you should be investigating instead of a showy PR stunt to cover up the fact your not putting human life above property?”  Then whip out your phone and call 911, some freak is trying to sell you stolen goods… he has a weapon, he’s coming at me send help NOW!

    Then they jump and beat one of their own, and won’t it be fun as they try to cover that one up like they do when they attack citizens.

    1. Conversely, if you are on the subway and a thief grabs your iPad with the cops watching, they can ignore it because it isn’t a rape or a murder.

      1. They will be to busy trying to sell ‘stolen’ iPads to notice. Or did you miss that whole giant backlog of rapes and murders they managed to forget about taking care of?

  11. I’d love to know how randomly stopping passers-by is going to identify middle-men who do this sort of thing for a living?  Anyone who does this for a living does not buy stolen iphones off the street.  Guaranteed. 

    This just sounds like a bunch of lazy, busy work to make it look like they are doing something.  Why not take a much smaller group of undercovers who can work their way into the black markets that really deal in stolen phones in bulk?  I mean, come on!  With so many unsolved murders and rapes these guys would be better used following up leads and questioning people in cold cases.  Its just more proof that our police are corrupt and lazy, preferring to harass and intimidate/arrest innocent people through entrapment/quasi-entrapment methods than to do their actual jobs.  Its pathetic frankly.  Five cops to arrest a guy who offers to buy a stolen phone?  Yeah that’s excellent use of sparse resources right there.  This country is falling apart and all I got was a bunch of dumb fucking cops running around getting their kicks arresting innocent people and beating/killing blacks.  Yay!  

    1. If a five man squad is more effective than five officers working independently, why not? 
      Consider that a three-card monte scam has a dealer, multiple shills, pickpockets and lookouts,all working together to fleece the public. If they worked independently, they would draw attention to themselves, rather than distracting the mark into parting with his money. A independent dealer might get roughed up. A dealer with no shills can’t entice the public. A dealer with no lookouts can’t keep an eye on the cops. A dealer with no pickpockets is missing an opportunity to score. It’s all coordinated.

      It’s the same thing with this. A unarmed “fake dealer”, an armed  bodyguard– some criminals don’t take kindly to being pinched, a couple of guys to catch those who run. In other words, a  team coordinating the sting and the arrests.

       Now, you might argue that the sting strategy doesn’t actually work to curb iphone thefts and targets the wrong people, but if arresting would-be customers is a good idea, then having a team to do it may be the best implementation of that idea..

  12. I’m a bit confused. They’re stopping people in the street, asking if they’ll buy stolen goods, and they’re trying to identify the middle men? Why do I feel that this story doesn’t have all of the facts. 

    In most cases wouldn’t they be trying to chat with bartenders, club owners, pawn shop owners, neighborhood barbers, shop owners, and other people well connected in a community to try to get word about merchandise to the right ears? Statistical averages the way they are, random sampling of the drudge population will get them nothing.

    1. Yeah, and I would guess that the middlemen don’t typically buy their stolen phones in the street. But what do I know?

    2. EXACTLY. This seems more like chasing butterflies while the snake you were supposed to be hunting gets raped by a thousand ants.

  13. San Francisco Police Capt. Joe Garrity: “We’re cutting the head off the snake.”
    I don’t think that means what he thinks it means.

  14. Seems to me it would be easier and cheaper to put an officer at every intersection then to have five in one place for an unknown period of time to maybe catch 1 minor infraction of the law.

  15. I cannot believe how many fucking police apologists there are on boingboing lately. The police in this country are completely out of hand. 
    “The policeman is a peace time soldier always at war.” -Inscription on the Nat’l Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial 
    This is what “our” police believe. Even though a farmer has a better chance of dying on the job than ANY police officer anywhere in the united states. If they actually believe they are peacetime soldiers, than we are ALL the enemy. I like it a lot better when cop cars used to say, “to PROTECT and SERVE” rather than “to Uphold the law” like they are fucking all judge dreads for christ sake. 

  16. Also, I would bet there wouldn’t be half as many stolen i-thingies if people didn’t walk around (or sit on a subway) staring into the devices everywhere they go. Put it in your fucking pocket, until you get to your destination. I really have no sympathy for someone who gets their ipad “snatched from their hands”. you are like a sitting duck. I would also bet if i sat on a subway fanning myself with 50 dollar bills, someone might try to steal those too!

    1.  Wait, what? I’m not allowed to hold something I own?  What universe do you live in?

      1. I didn’t say you couldn’t hold it. Just have some fucking common sense. Would you hold a wad of 50 dollar bills on the subway? Or would you keep it secure until you were someplace “safe”? (and, no, a subway is not a safe place.)

        1. What’s the point of having a wireless communication device if you can’t use it in public?

          1. Do you REALLY need to be connected all the time? Would you consider a subway, or some streets in any major city (or small city) an absolutely safe place where no one will ever try to do you wrong? Like I said, common sense. Put it away for 15 minutes, is that an impossible thing now? Nobody answered my question, would you hold a wad of fifty dollar bills on the subway?

          2. I don’t own a cell phone. I also don’t think that using one in public is an invitation to be mugged.

          3. I agree Antinous, I agree. Sadly, that is not the world we live in. And it is not a new phenomenon, you know the Artful Dodger and all that. I am not saying I agree w/punks who would carry out a grab-and-go. THIS JUST IN: people steal shit. (I had to reply to myself, because, Disqus. And, you don’t own a cell phone? That is awesome, no snark intended.)

  17. At least San Francisco cops are not as bad as cops elsewhere. 

    Spend some time in Fullerton or El Cajon. You’ll realize we have it easy here. Cops know their place. 

  18. Mark, please put a clear label on posts containing information sourced from Reason.com. That publication has no credibility with me, nor, I imagine, with a lot of other BoingBoing readers.

  19. I won’t be reading BoingBoing anymore thanks to the lack of any sort of dissenting view on this video. A comment I made critical of the approach and content of the video was deleted without explanation and there’s still no retraction or discussion of the full story of this video in the actual body of the news article. 

    I guess BoingBoing is okay posting Straw-Man arguments peddled by Reason Magazine without any sort of fact-checking. I’ll say it again. It’s deplorable that BoingBoing refuses to offer a balanced take on this issue.

    1. I found your comment above, and I found it helpful, as well as the 5-10 immediately following, which all took down the original story.

      Feel free to leave, but your subscription is non-refundable.

  20. In Australia, any phone reported stolen simply has it’s IMEI number blocked by all mobile carriers.  It’s a simple solution to the problem (because it renders stolen handsets effectively useless), and doesn’t involve trying to screw citizens over like this shady nonsense.

        1.  Nope. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Plus, at least here, all that needs to happen is they need to be sold in mainland Europe.

  21. And yet SF makes citizen self-defense a near impossibility while armed robberies surge.

    I realize this makes the sheep in SFfeel “safer” while simultaneously making them LESS so, but seriously? 5 cops to take down ONE one-time illegal receiver of goods?

    This is a good use of police resources as opposed to violent crime? As opposed to enforcing decades-old laws on felons with guns that are virtually NEVER enforced on the serious federal level where it’s between 4.5-8.5 years IN JAIL (as opposed to sentences)?

    Tell me anything from SF when it’s actually effective on the crime that anyone actually cares about other than our corporate masters.

    Ask your friends and neighbors which scare them more: The mugger, rapist or home invader or the guy who buys a stolen I-Phone.  10 gets you one it isn’t the receiver of stolen goods. -The one the SFPD thinks is worth 5 cops whereas the Castro can’t get ONE cop on a Saturday night.

  22. One muste really be a sick sont of a b**** to push someone to commit a fault and then blame them for it. And by the way, cops having stolen phones? 

      1. At least use the proper form of “you’re” when chastising others for their lack of intelligence.

  23. Another fine example of The State’s continued war on its own citizens.

    But then, since it pays the same as tracking down actual armed muggers, why wouldn’t the piggies just entrap average people?

    Those with power tend towards using it in furtherance of their own interests. It is in the piggies’ interest to collect a healty paycheck while neither risking their necks nor busting their donut-fattened butts.

  24. Isn’t that entrapment? If someone offers to sell me a phone, why can’t I buy it?  If it is a cop, then the phone’s not really stolen. Thus no crime. If the phone is stolen, then the cops are the ones breaking the law.

        1. apparently not, if you’re the police.

          jesus christ, this is what happens when they gut civics education. the people who aren’t total sycophants to power tend to be completely naive idiots.

  25. Once again, cowardly cops picking at low hanging fruit. Yes, please get all the cheap nerds off our streets. Don’t worry about drug dealers, politicians, bankers, murderers, rapist, etc . etc..  Keep those back alleyways safe from tech nerds cheapskates!

  26. If the cops did this with stolen bicycles, would people be so enraged?
    It is possible, you know, to say “No thanks, it’s obviously stolen” if someone offers you a suspiciously cheap iPhone on the street!

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