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Title: Undercover Cops Hired 118 Handymen, Then Arrested Them All for Not Having Licenses
Source: Reason
URL Source: https://reason.com/2020/02/05/under ... m-all-for-not-having-licenses/
Published: Feb 5, 2020
Author: Christian Britschgi
Post Date: 2020-02-06 09:55:07 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 291
Comments: 21

Undercover sheriff's deputies posing as homeowners hired handymen to paint, install recessed lighting, or do other tasks that require licenses. Then they arrested them.

reason-handyman

(Mengzhang/Dreamstime.com)

The residents of Hillsborough County, Florida, can sleep safely tonight following the arrest of 118 people for performing unlicensed contracting work as part of a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office sting known as "Operation House Hunters."

The sting, according to Patch, saw sheriff's deputies pose as homeowners seeking handymen on social media to do jobs that required licensure. These unsuspecting handymen would be lured to one of five homes, where undercover deputies filmed them performing or agreeing to perform prohibited tasks like painting or installing recess lighting.

The stings were carried out between March and December of last year. The arrests were announced yesterday.

"These 118 con men and women were posing as contractors & preying on innocent homeowners in Hillsborough County, who were just looking to repair or improve their home," said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister at a Tuesday press conference. The mug shots of those picked up in the sweeps were displayed behind him on big posters.

The Sheriff's Office also released a compilation video of some of the handymen caught up in the sting operation, including several who had past criminal convictions, or who had been caught previously performing unlicensed contract work.

Only eight of the people arrested as part of Operation House Hunters were repeat offenders, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. The other 110 were arrested for first-time offenses. The bulk of those charges were for "unlawful acts in the capacity of a contractor," a misdemeanor offense that can come with a $1,000 fine and a 12-month jail sentence. Repeat violations can result in a felony charge.

That the Sheriff's sting operation netted few master criminals is not surprising to Leslie Sammis, a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Florida, who has represented clients caught up in these sting operations in Hillsborough County.

"The real con men that are trying to trick homeowners are usually too experienced to get caught up in one of these types of sting operations. So the stings tend to catch someone that crosses the line in an unsophisticated way," Sammis told me in an email.

Frequently, she says, officers will hire a handyman on the pretext of performing work that doesn't need a license, and then during the course of the job ask them to do something that does, like unhooking a toilet or laying some tiles.

"When the handyman says no, then the undercover detective moves the conversation to something else and then comes back to the question later in a different way," says Sammis. "By the time the handyman gets to the location, they want to make the homeowner happy and end up agreeing to perform work that they didn't intend on doing when they first arrived. The undercover detective[s] are just creating a crime that probably wouldn't occur otherwise."

Using stings to nab unlicensed contractors isn't unique to Hillsborough County. Cops and regulators have conducted similar operations in New York and California.

Occupational licensing, whether it's of contractors or hair braiders, is often much more about protecting incumbent businesses and government licensing revenue than it is about safeguarding the welfare of consumers.

Operation House Hunters is a perfect illustration of this, with cops going to great lengths to manufacture licensing law violations that either wouldn't have happened or wouldn't have produced unsatisfied parties.

The more effort law enforcement spends entrapping handymen, the fewer personnel and resources they have to devote to deterring other, more serious crimes. "These sting operations rake in big money in fines and court costs," Sammis says. "Catching real criminals actually committing a crime is much harder."

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

So what's the point of this story?

A license shouldn't be required? Only some people should have to purchase a license? Cops should tell contractors they're doing a sting? If you do good work you (obviously) don't need a license? Pass laws but don't enforce them?

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-06   10:36:30 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Deckard (#0)

officers will hire a handyman on the pretext of performing work that doesn't need a license

If a handyman cannot replace a toilet, fix a leaky faucet, repaint a ceiling, repair/replace some broken bathroom tiles...what can he do?

According to the Hills Borough County website there is no requirement for handyman...

www.hillsboroughcounty.or...need-a-contractor-license

Most licensed general contractors wouldn't bother coming out for the piddling jobs these cops were using as entrapment.

And the Sheriff is catching hell for his efforts...

twitter.com/HCSOSheriff/status/1224710945911558147

watchman  posted on  2020-02-06   12:41:56 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: misterwhite (#1)

Why should there be a license NEEDED to work? I can't think of a single reason why a license is required to do any work, including surgeon. Now if you want to have surgery, you might want a Doctor who has privileges in Hospital. Then again, you may not. I figure nobody would use a non-certified Doctor, but would you arrest parents for pulling a tooth without a dental license?

THIS IS A TAG LINE...Exercising rights is only radical to two people, Tyrants and Slaves. Which are YOU? Our ignorance has driven us into slavery and we do not recognize it.

jeremiad  posted on  2020-02-06   21:29:50 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: watchman (#2)

Those twitter replies were good reading.

rustynail  posted on  2020-02-07   7:52:23 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: rustynail, watchman (#4)

Those twitter replies were good reading.

Alternative headline: Men and women arrested for making an honest living.

If I travel to Florida and am approached by a handyman am I allowed to shoot first or do I need to wait to see the paint on his brush?

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2020-02-07   8:27:54 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: jeremiad (#3)

Why should there be a license NEEDED to work?

To prove the person completed the requirements to be in that profession.

Now, if people were honest and admitted they weren't qualified to do the work, then yeah, we wouldn't need licenses. But they lie, just as this woman did.

Hard to believe, I know.

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-07   10:03:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Deckard (#0)

The sting, according to Patch, saw sheriff's deputies pose as homeowners seeking handymen on social media to do jobs that required licensure. These unsuspecting handymen would be lured to one of five homes, where undercover deputies filmed them performing or agreeing to perform prohibited tasks like painting or installing recess lighting.

How'd you like to sign up for a career to protect your town from crime, then get stuck doing useless, anticapitalist bullshit like this?

Hank Rearden  posted on  2020-02-07   16:20:44 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: misterwhite (#6) (Edited)

Word of mouth is all that is necessary.A license never prevented a leaky roof, painted window glass, or an instrument left inside a patient. What it does do is make billions for insurance companies and puts a huge dent into our personal liberty.

For every licensed contractor there is doing the vast majority of jobs, the people accomplishing the work have no licenses. The license protects the guy most likely to tell the workmen to cut corners. Licenses make money for the State government and the insurance companies. Bonds protect supplier of materials in the event people are purchasing it on an account instead of cash. Insurance, makes the big bucks for lawyers, and protects customers from outright scams but only somewhat.

THIS IS A TAG LINE...Exercising rights is only radical to two people, Tyrants and Slaves. Which are YOU? Our ignorance has driven us into slavery and we do not recognize it.

jeremiad  posted on  2020-02-08   20:47:51 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: misterwhite (#6)

So you need a license to paint or prove that you can paint?

A K A Stone  posted on  2020-02-08   20:59:45 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Hank Rearden (#7)

How'd you like to sign up for a career to protect your town from crime, then get stuck doing useless, anticapitalist bullshit like this?

Oh, I doubt that's a full-time activity.

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   11:31:40 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: A K A Stone (#9)

So you need a license to paint or prove that you can paint?

About 20 states require some sort of a license for painting contractors. If that's what the citizens of those states want, who am I to tell them how to run their lives?

Unless, of course, you believe the rest of us should be able to dictate to the citizens of, say, Ohio, what they can and cannot regulate under their State constitution?

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   11:38:33 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#12. To: misterwhite (#11)

You would put Jews in an oven if told to by your master the government. Yes you would don't deny it.

A K A Stone  posted on  2020-02-09   11:40:26 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: misterwhite (#11)

Only stupid people believe the government does what the people want.

A K A Stone  posted on  2020-02-09   11:42:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#14. To: jeremiad (#8)

For every licensed contractor there is doing the vast majority of jobs, the people accomplishing the work have no licenses.

The licensed contractor is ultimately responsible for the work. He carries insurance for his workers so YOU don't get sued for an on-the-job injury, his work is bonded, he carries an insured and enforceable warranty, and he uses approved materials.

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   11:56:38 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: A K A Stone (#13)

Only stupid people believe the government does what the people want.

Yeah. Trump, for example.

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   11:57:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#16. To: A K A Stone (#12)

You would put Jews in an oven if told to by your master the government.

How do you fit 100 Jews in a Volkswagen Beetle?

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   12:01:09 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#17. To: misterwhite (#15)

Trump has nothing to do with this.

A K A Stone  posted on  2020-02-09   12:06:52 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#18. To: misterwhite (#16)

How do you fit 100 Jews in a Volkswagen Beetle?

I don't know how you would do it. Tell us. Sounds like you would do something evil.

A K A Stone  posted on  2020-02-09   12:07:42 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#19. To: A K A Stone (#17)

Trump has nothing to do with this.

He's the prime example of the government doing what the people want.

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   12:30:08 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#20. To: A K A Stone, misterwhite (#13)

Heaven forbid that two consenting adults trade labor for money without the government’s approval.

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2020-02-09   13:22:49 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#21. To: Deckard (#20)

Heaven forbid that two consenting adults trade labor for money without the government’s approval.

Good ol' Libertarian fantasy. Trade labor for money and everyone's happy.

But what happens when one party is deceived? When the labor is sub-par? When money is withheld or refused?

"Oh, help me government! Oh, help me civil courts! Oh, help me taxpayers!"

misterwhite  posted on  2020-02-09   14:15:50 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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