August 28, 2009

Police nab 76 in stimulus sting

Police in Florida said they arrested 76 people with outstanding warrants by luring them out into the open with the promise of stimulus checks.

Fort Lauderdale police said they sent letters purporting to be from the South Florida Stimulus Coalition to wanted city residents on a Broward Sheriff's Office list, the Miami Herald reported Friday.

The letters instructed the recipients to schedule appointments for Wednesday and Thursday at the War Memorial Auditorium, where officers verified their identities before placing them under arrest. Police said 76 people were arrested for crimes including grand theft, fraud and attempted murder.

Sgt. Frank Sousa, a police spokesman, said five others who showed up for appointments were let go for medical reasons and one or two people who did not have charges against them were released.

We're always looking for creative ways to conduct operations and reduce crime, Sousa said.

He said the department may try a similar plan in the future.

I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people here chuckling, he said, saying this was a great idea.