Reporters on metropolitan newspapers have been known to dramatize a story for effect. But there are events that need no embellishment. When police here this week used a charter bus to nab a bevy of suspects, Hollywood couldn't have thought of a better plot. And the production came in with a rock-bottom budget to boot.
For the last four months, three undercover detectives operated "Good Buy, Buyers of Gold and Silver," a shop they set up in Manhattan's West 47th Street diamond district. By letting it be known that jewelry would be purchased with no questions asked, the detectives recovered an estimated $2.5 million worth of stolen merchandise for a cash outlay of $8,500. Satisfied with their results, the detectives threw a "party" for their customers this week, announcing it would end with a free gambling spree in Atlantic City, N.J.
Twenty-five smiling "Good Buy" customers entered a bus with a sign saying "GOOD BUY CHARTER." But instead of cruising to New Jersey, the suspects took a one-way ride to jail. Seven of them were indicted for offenses ranging from robbery to attempted murder.
Although Operation Good Buy now is over, police and the Manhattan District Attorney's office are not about to say "goodbye" to other "sting" operations. in fact, the Good Buy scheme was so successful that lawmen hope to duplicate it much more frequently.
"This kind of operation has proved to be a very valuable tool," says Mary DeBourbon, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. "Using the bus was not only a novel way of arresting suspects but a much more frugal one as well."
However, a New York City Police Department spokesman says a sting operation of this type "takes an awful lot of care and time," noting that one wrong move could destroy everything.