Police 'steal' valuables from unlocked cars to teach owners a lesson

Police in New Haven, CT are teaching drivers a lesson by becoming the bad guys themselves. If New Haven police find an unlocked car, they grab any visible valuables they can. The officers leave a note for the owner, telling them where they can pick up their things.

Police hope this tactic will teach people to lock car doors, but the controversial program is causing a lot of heartburn for unsuspecting drivers. It might also be illegal. A constitutional lawyer told Fox Q13 that the program violates the fourth amendment, since the police do not have a warrant to enter these cars.

"In effect what they're doing is stealing these people's property," New Haven Civil Rights Attorney John Williams told the station. "They have no right to enter their car at all because just because the fact it's not locked doesn't mean it's not your private property."

A city spokesperson countered that there is a caretaker provision in state law that allows them to break into their citizens cars. Apparently, no one told New Haven police that the US constitution trumps state law. Police are cracking down on unlocked vehicles ahead of the holiday season, when the rate of car break-ins tends to increase.

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