Wednesday December 5, 2012

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Police who left a cash-filled purse and a bag with a DVD player in an unattended shopping cart outside stores in Manchester were glad to find that most holiday shoppers did the right thing and tried to find the rightful owner.

Officers have been running the sting operations for about a week to target theft at shopping centers. So far, police Lt. Maureen Tessier said, many people have noticed the bag and purse and taken steps to return them. Just two people have been arrested after walking away with the items and putting them in their cars.

"We want people to know we’re out there looking for these types of things," Tessier said Tuesday. The cart has been left outside a Walmart, in a TJ Maxx Plaza, and at the Mall of New Hampshire.

She said there hasn’t been any major concern about the sting. The law says a person who obtains lost or mislaid property needs to try to return it, and the unattended items have markings indicating ownership.

"It’s clearly property that belongs to someone," she said. "The pretense is that someone left it there by accident."

Asked if officers were surprised that most people tried to return the bag and purse, Tessier said, "I don’t think surprised is right. I think we should all have that expectation that everyone’s going to do the right thing."