Warrantless Search of Property to Secure a Key to a Locker

Can a Warrantless Search of An Individual's Property to Secure a Key to a Locker Where Explosives Have Been Stored Be Carried Out ? In U.S. v. Thompson (5th Cir. 1988) 837 F.2d 673, the court upheld a warrantless search of the defendant's property to secure a key to a locker where explosives had been stored. ( Id. at p. 674.) The court distinguished such search from that in Brett v. United States (5th Cir. 1969) 412 F.2d 401, where the authorities conducted a search of the defendant's property three days after his arrest and discovered contraband. The Thompson court explained: "In Brett the officer conducted an exploratory search of the prisoner's effects three days after he had been arrested and found cellophane papers with traces of heroin in the watch pocket of the prisoner's trousers. The second inspection was undertaken to look for something that had not been discovered at the time of the inventory. In Thompson's case, the keys were not concealed and no further exploration was required." (Thompson, supra, 837 F.2d at pp. 675-676; accord, U.S. v. Turner (9th Cir. 1994) 28 F.3d 981, 983 seizure of a cap stored with defendant's jail property; search occurred while defendant was under arrest for unrelated charges.)