You know the sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when an officer pulls up behind you at a stop light? Immediately, your heart starts beating faster, your knees go weak, and your palms begin to get sweaty while you start to tell yourself, "Don't look suspicious," even when you're not doing anything wrong? You realize you're acting suspiciously simply by trying to not act suspiciously. We've all been there. From the perspective of an officer, this can be pretty confusing to try and unravel—but judging from these stories, also highly entertaining. From catching people rummaging through dumpsters, bicycling late at night with suspicious black bags full of random items, or simply playing Pokemon Go in the weirdest—and I mean, weirdest—of places... they've really seen it all.
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My grandfather was the only officer in a one-stoplight town in Ohio in the 1960s. His favorite story to tell was the time he got a call for suspicious behavior at the local ice cream parlor after hours. He pulled up to see a young boy on the ground with red liquid around him. Then, there was an overwhelming smell of cherries. And he saw another officer inside.
Turns out, the children of the owners were making a home movie of themselves playing officers and robbers. The red liquid was cherry syrup for the ice cream. And the other officer was the brother, saving the owner of the ice cream shop from robbers. That was their sister. The kids made him a sundae for his troubles and promised to call if they were going to film a sequel.
I was dispatched to a female running down the street screaming and being chased by a male in a vehicle. It looked serious, and I was ready to make an arrest. Turns out, she had jumped out of the car screaming to catch a Pokemon. He was trying to get the car off the street so that he too could jump out and catch it. I mean, how ridiculous is that?
I work midnights and, one night, I was sitting in my cruiser at like 2 a.m. doing paperwork. I saw an older model car driving slowly around the area and then it pulled into an abandoned parking lot. It backed into the corner by the woods. No lighting. This is for a building that is being torn down. I thought this wasn't normal. So I looked into it.
I pulled up to him and got out. I asked what he was doing, and as I did, I saw that he had bags full of something in his back seat, and he was alone. He was an older guy and he seemed a little off. He told me he was there to feed the cats. I thought he was trying to pull a fast one on me and asked him where the cats were. As I did, about 40 cats came running out of the woods. The guys asked, “May I?” He got out of the car and started feeding the cats. The closest thing I can describe it as was the scene in Ace Ventura where his pets all come out of hiding. I said, “Ok. Go on about your business. I guess.” And I left.
Patrolling a housing neighborhood for troops and their families, I had noticed a suspicious van parked around the area over the past few nights. It was always in a different spot but I could never catch it coming or going. So around the fifth night of this, I hid in my car and waited. Sure enough, the van rolled through. I waited a few minutes before following. I turned the corner and three guys were rummaging through all the trash cans left on the street.
As it turns out, they were part of CID (think NCIS, the show, but Army version). They suspected someone in the area was cooking substances and they were going through all of the garbage cans to find discarded ingredients... I only found this out after they called my supervisors. I had a stern talking to about interrupting a serious investigation but I still don't feel bad, no one told me.
I found a guy parked behind a middle school around 5:30 a.m. on a weekday morning during the school's winter break so no one should be there. He didn't have much of an excuse as to why he was there but nothing else was out of place and he wasn't wanted by authorities. It wasn't until he drove away and I looked around where his car was parked that I realized what he was doing... He had used the snowbank as his own personal bathroom. Made me laugh so hard, all I could do was kick snow over it.
Once in the early 2000s, my wife and I were together in the corner of an empty hotel parking lot. The authorities pulled up and said the hotel manager reported us as suspicious. We said, "Uh, we're just stealing the hotel's wireless internet." He looked in and saw us both with laptops on our laps and a miniature printer on the dashboard. The officer just laughed, said nevermind, and walked away.
Late at night, I saw a guy hauling copper pipe out of a local grocery store after it closed down. Copper theft at the time was super common, so I thought I had a burglary in progress. I stepped out and got ready for an easy arrest. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was hired to clean the place out. I asked why he was taking the copper. Apparently, the owner told him that his payment was the copper piping. Since it wasn't going to be a grocery store after closing, they didn't need it.
I didn't buy it for a minute. My liar detector was screaming at this point. So I found the owner in our records, called him, and sure enough, the guy was hired to clean the place out and was paid in copper pipe. That was their agreement. But then I asked him why he was out at 2 a.m. since it was super suspicious. Since the place closed down, there was no A/C. As it was the middle of summer, 2 a.m. was the best time to do it and keep cool.
I was the only one on the block that didn’t come out of the house after shots were fired in my neighborhood at about 4:45 a.m, so my house was suspicious. The authorities came over and banged and banged on the door. They thought it was me. I slept through the whole thing. It took the officers quite a while to wake me up, and I had no alibi because I had been sleeping. My roommate slept through it too. Kinda weird.
I came out of my room and the first thing I noticed was that the carpet was super cold on my bare feet. It was weird, but I thought my roommate or I had probably left the patio door cracked open at some point. Then I saw it. The front door to the apartment was open. Somebody had broken into our apartment. I called the authorities and started taking inventory. My laptop was five feet from the door and our big TV was another five feet away. Nothing was taken.
The officer that eventually showed up noticed shoe prints on the door and couldn’t believe that neither my roommate or I had woken up to somebody kicking the door in. He made us show him all of the shoes we owned just to make sure the shoe print didn’t match one of our own. We had been at a New Year's Eve party before so we were so tired that we had just slept right through the break in. Closest we could figure, somebody came home after the party and when his key didn't work, he kicked down the door only to realize it wasn’t even his apartment.
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I was just starting my shift late at night when I noticed a woman driving in circles around a closed business at 3:00 a.m. I pulled her over and asked her what she was doing. She said to me, "Yeah, there's a herd of Charmanders here and it's too busy during the day." Turns out, this was around the time that Pokemon Go was taking off. There were so many contacts in the middle of the night that were just people trying to catch pokemon.
One of our new officers was late for roll call one night. After about 45 minutes, our sergeant got a call from another station asking if he was the sergeant for the missing officer. Hilarity ensued. Apparently, the missing officer was getting ready to leave his apartment for roll call for the night shift. As he walked out to the stairs, he saw a guy in a ski mask hop through his neighbor's window.
He radioed the burglary in progress. When he got back to his neighbor's house, he heard a female screaming and the sounds of a struggle. He announced himself, kicked open the front door, ran to the kitchen, and saw what he thought was a guy in a ski mask assaulting the neighbor. The neighbor saw the officer, screamed at the ski mask guy and completely freaked out. Turns out, ski mask guy was the neighbor's boyfriend. They were in role play. At least nobody got shot and apparently, the officer was known thereafter as Officer Blocker.
My dad, who was an officer, told me this story, which took place in the '80s. My father was sitting in his cruiser around the corner form a bar. A car drove by and swerved a little. Exhaust was coming out of the tailpipe, which signified a recently started vehicle. So my dad pulled the guy over. He smelled booze on the driver and also noticed a large staff in the backseat. He had the driver step out then inquired about the staff.
The driver told my dad, "I'm a black belt in kung fu, I use it in class." So my father, unconvinced, asked him to demonstrate his proficiency with the staff to prove his sobriety in a sort of impromptu field sobriety test. The driver put on a little show for dad on the side of the road. My dad was enjoying the show but started to hear sirens coming from all directions. A passerby had seen my dad on the side of the road in a face-off with a crazy man and a stick. Thinking my dad was in need of help, the passerby called the authorities. Apparently, my dad had been so wrapped up in the show, he had not heard the radio calls for him. So dispatch sent all available units to his rescue.
When I used to work at a grocery store, I would get off sometime between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. and I preferred to ride my bike most of the year to save on gas. Since work was close to my house and there were few cars out, I never really bothered with lights. Already suspicious I know. Right around Thanksgiving, we would get in these massive stalks of brussel sprouts, which if you have never seen one they look like something you might find growing on an alien planet. Three feet of little bulbs at the end of spikes, basically.
They were super cheap so I couldn't pass up such a deal, but of course, the only way for me to transport it home at night was to ride with the stalk sticking a foot out of my backpack. I have no idea what the authorities thought it was when they pulled me over. One was talking to me while the other checked me out from behind, when the one behind me busted out laughing, "Are those Brussel sprouts?!"
It was 3 a.m. on a weeknight and I pulled up behind a car at a light. The light was green and the car was stopped but running. The light turned red so I waited behind him. The light turned green again and this dude wasn't moving. So my partner and I quietly exited our vehicle and approached his. He was completely passed out. Asleep. With the car in drive. We woke him up and talked to him to make sure he was okay and he was. He was just tired because his wife had a baby a few days ago and needed him to run to the store for something. That newborn sleep deprivation is real!
One night I was coming home from a friends house late at night. Their house is known for partying and this was a relatively rural area so the authorities didn't have much to do. I hadn't been drinking or anything that night and there wasn't a party. So, as I was driving home down the windy back roads, I hit a skunk. I kept driving, but after five or six minutes, my A/C started pumping out the worst smell you've ever smelled.
I knew it was the skunk. I was only like 10 minutes from home, so I tried to stick it out. I rolled down the windows and kinda stuck my head out, Ace Ventura style. It wasn't working and the smell was overwhelming. I pulled over, put my hazards on, and started vomiting on the side of the road. After a minute or so, a officer pulled up and put his lights on. He got out and saw me, this mid-20's dude with tattoos and a nose ring, keeled over.
As he was walking towards me, he said, "Well, well, looks like maybe someone had a bit too much to drink toni- oh, what the heck!?" As he was walking by my car he smelled the skunk. He started dry-heaving and vomited a little bit. I told him I hit a skunk and it was stuck in the undercarriage. We both kind of just back off of each other until we felt well enough to talk to each other, and then he helped me poke the skunk off of the bottom of my car while we both dry-heaved, using his extendable baton. Then once it was off, he just kind of nodded and said, "Okay, good luck kid," and got in his car. We both seemed pretty embarrassed. Whoever you were, officer, sorry you didn't get the easy job you thought you had. But, thanks for helping me get that skunk off of my car.
I'm in a local saltwater aquarium club. It has always been a joke that the authorities have come to quite a few of our houses when they see grow lights in the basement—which are actually for corals. The authorities usually check electricity records and show us that we all have extremely high electricity usage. They can usually get a warrant to search the place. It's never happened to me, but it's happened to people I know. The officers usually get a good laugh out of it and are amazed to see the coral growing systems that people run.
I had a cluster fly infestation for a few days. I had no idea where they were coming from and I got rid of them as quickly as I could and went about my day as normal. One day, on the weekend, there was a knock at the door with riot officers who stated they believed that someone had lost their life on the property and they were able to enter under an emergency act of law without a warrant.
Apparently, an elderly lady visiting the bus stop in front of my house had reported my house to the authorities after seeing the cluster flies. The officers spoke to my neighbors and when asked about who lived in my house, they mentioned my ex-girlfriend, who they hadn't seen for a few months. We had broken up and she moved out, but the authorities put the flies report and this fact together as me being an offender.
The authorities were sure I had something to hide as they instantly didn't believe that I owned the house. I work in IT, so I make good money and am thankful I saved hard to get on the housing ladder. But they weren't having any of it. I had to wait under surveillance while my house was searched. There were riot officers in the street. I'm a keen gardener and upstairs in the airing cupboard I was attempting to grow some plants. The officers were convinced that I, at the time 23 years old, was instead running a cannabis factory. In the end, they found nothing and realized their mistake. I'm sure I'm on some kind of list now but they left almost disappointed that their amazing detective work found an IT nerd that likes flora and not some kind of mastermind offender.
It was just after midnight and we got a call of a suspicious person looking into a home. We responded code two (lights, no sirens) and switched off our lights as we got close. As we pulled up to the house, there were no signs of anyone at the front of the house, so we walked around the rear and there was a guy with a crowbar wrenching on the back door.
I identified myself as an officer and yelled to drop the crowbar. The guy started screaming and nearly crying because we scared him so bad. Turns out, he went to Tim Hortons to get a coffee and he forgot his keys and cell phone in the house. His wife forgot he left and locked the doors like she does every night. The poor guy tried to wake his wife up but she was passed out and didn't hear him. He grabbed a crowbar from his shed to try to pop the locking mechanism out and we caught him. We managed to get a hold of her by calling her on my cell. When she answered the door, she admitted to accidentally locking him out and gave us the exact same sequence of events.
This happened to a friend of a friend. A guy had two huskies and while he was at work, they got into a fight and one sadly passed. His dogs had loved the dog park so he figured he would bury it in the nearby woods. He parked his truck and went into the trees with a big bag and a shovel. He came out a while later to a bunch of officers. It turns out, there was a kid missing in the area at the time and people at the park had called the authorities on him. They made him go back into the woods, dig up the dog, and show them.
I worked as a campus security officer for a bit back in college. One night, one of my fellow officers radioed in a possible breaking and entering. A male and a female were behind a random building in some kind of physical altercation. He went to go check it out. Twenty seconds later, he came back on the radio and said, "Never mind, they were just being... romantic..."
One time, my husband spotted a guy, who was in a straight jacket, come around the corner of town that he was patrolling. Suspicious, he ran over and grabbed him and asked him what he was doing. He said he was just messing around with it with a friend, but he lost his friend and couldn't get out. So my husband asked to call his friend just in case, and low and behold, he wasn’t even lying.
My girlfriend worked at a haunted house and was taking some coworkers home. An officer pulled them over, rolled down the window, and saw zombies everywhere. The officer freaked out, called for backup, and they yelled, "We work at Horror Hill, it's alright!" He finally got the message. They said he had to catch his breath and he told them he was about to freak out really hard. It went down amicably, however, and everyone had a laugh.
When I was 17 and almost finished with high school, I decided to go to the grocery store to get loads of jello because I wanted to make a rainbow jello bundt cake. An officer came up behind me at the checkout, started laughing at me and said, "Oh, I know what those are for," with a wink. I was genuinely clueless. I grew up very sheltered, as did my friends. It wasn't until I came home and relayed the story to my mom that she started laughing and told me that most teenagers would be making jello shots.
During a ride along at 2:30 am, a guy was riding a bike down a back street with two giant duffel bags on his back. It was Christmas time and because this was in Canada, it was pretty darn cold out. We stopped the guy and he said they were full of Sports Illustrated magazines. We checked, and they actually were. He was about five miles from his house. Weird.
When I was a park ranger, I had to do random checks of the park at night and through the campground. In the remote section of the park, I noticed a truck parked off the road and down in the woods at like 2 a.m. Thinking it was just some teenagers fooling around, I lit the truck up with my spotlight and saw just one guy sitting in the driver's seat. He looked like he was laughing. Well, he opened the door and got out holding something small and black. He was wearing a white jumpsuit covered in red stains.
I got out of my SUV and tried to get his attention. He wasn't laughing. He was crying, and at this point, I could tell he was about 40 years old. He wouldn't stop advancing. I was shouting at him to drop whatever he was holding, but he kept walking at me and was just outside of the light beam so I couldn't tell what was in his hand. I was literally pleading with this guy to stop and finally drew on him.
Thankfully, he stopped about 10 feet from me and held up his hands. He was holding a black belt buckle. Once I calmed him down and calmed myself down, I figured out that was a painter, hence the red paint on him. He had lost his job that evening and was scared to go home and tell his wife and kids that he lost his job. I turned in my notice shortly after that. It shook me up pretty badly.
My mom and my teenage sister were driving down the main street in our town and sharing a bag of gummy bears. Upon seeing the authorities in the lane next to them, my mom jokingly yelled, "Stash the gummy bears!" They dramatically hid the gummy bears under the seat whilst stopped at a red light next to the officer's car. Unfortunately, the officer saw and they got pulled over immediately afterward.
My grandpa worked in a factory and often worked overtime, meaning he would go into work around 3 a.m. This is rural Wisconsin, in farmland area, and the neighbors down the road happen to own llamas. So, it was early morning, still dark, and the neighbor's fence broke. The llamas got out and my grandpa ended up hitting one with his truck. Being the responsible citizen that he is, he called it into the authorities.
Now, the officers heard “I hit a llama” at 3 a.m. and they thought my grandpa was some out of his mind guy coming home from the bar, who hit a deer and didn't know what he was talking about. The officer came out to the scene fully expecting to arrest my grandpa and put him in a cell to sleep it off. Imagine his shock when he actually got to the scene to see a llama on the side of the road. He was so shocked, in fact, that he radioed back to the station and said, "Oh my god, you guys! He really did hit a llama!"
My wife qualified for the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii. We had an early flight and she needed to keep her training up as she knew we had a long day of travel ahead of us. She decided to go for a run at 3 a.m. before we had to leave for the airport. On her way back to the house (less than a mile away), she stopped to walk for a minute. A car moving slowly in her direction with high beams on stopped near her. She was on high alert.
A voice said, “Hey you, come here!” She freaked out and started to run by the car. The car did a u-turn and started to follow her. She really took off and decided to go cross country cutting through backyards and houses. She easily lost the guy and came bursting into the house as I was getting out of the shower. She told me that there was some creepy guy chasing her. I called the authorities. It turns out that the guy in the car was an officer. He never identified himself and his high beams blinded my wife and she couldn’t see the car. They were casing the neighborhood looking for her, thinking she was some dangerous offender who ran from an officer.
I saw a guy chase a screaming woman, knock her down, and start tearing at her clothes. My partner and I were in full charge and luckily, before we tackled him, it was obvious that something else was going on. The guy's wife had got a bee down her shirt. She freaked out and ran (taking the bee with her, obviously). He was just being an attentive husband by dragging her to the ground and ripping her shirt off.
More than once I have come across someone with a Slim Jim (or meat stick) attempting to unlock their own vehicle. A good sign that they aren't breaking into someone else's car is when they look right at you in a marked vehicle and don't take off running. I usually get out, check their license and the vehicle registration, and yup, it's their car. And they're trying to unlock it with a Slim Jim. Don't ask me if it actually works.
My grandpa was an officer in the Bay Area in the '70s. One night, he got a call about a guy getting thrown into a dumpster. He responded and there was a guy, about 6'7", standing there with his girlfriend. He detained the guy and as it turns out, a 15-year-old (the guy in the dumpster) was throwing rocks at the guy and his girlfriend. So the guy picked the kid up by the shirt, dropped him back in the dumpster, and closed the lid. The guy who got the rocks thrown at him ended up playing 12 years as a linebacker in the NFL.
My brother and his friends went on a long road trip to Big Bend National Park and decided that for every mile they drove they would do one push-up. This resulted in them doing push-ups on the side of the road at midnight, subsequently causing an officer to pull over to check on them. He informed them that usually when you see people doing push-ups on the side of the road at midnight they're usually a bit tipsy.
A 9-1-1 call came in. A kid had called and just kept saying McDonald’s. He continued to hang up and call back about McDonald’s. The 9-1-1 team pinged his phone to an address. I, an officer, got there and there were about 10 kids playing. I asked if any of them called 9-1-1. One kid asked if I was his Dine N Dash driver and if I brought his Chick-fil-A for him.
I pointed to my patrol car and showed him my flashing lights. I explained that I have no Chick-fil-A for him. I eventually found the caller, a seven-year-old kid. He told me that he called 9-1-1 because he was also hungry and wanted chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. I laughed and so did the other kids. We found his mom and I explained to him what 9-1-1 is for. His mom was not happy, but I left laughing.
I was hanging out with my boyfriend and there was a knock on the door. My boyfriend asked the person at the door to say who they were, and the person behind the door said his name was Dave, to which my boyfriend replied, "I don't know a Dave"...he opened the door and it was a swarm of DEA agents. They came in the house looking for "the grow room", which was actually my iguana's cage with a plastic leaf inside. They came in a SWAT van.
Remember when Diet Coke and Mentos was a thing? My buddy worked nights at a gas station. I wanted to see if it worked, so I threw my hoodie on, walked down there to see my buddy, and tried it. We went by the gas pumps where the light was good. I set up a two-litre of Diet Coke, a paper tube, and dropped a few Mentos into the bottle. A woman called the authorities and said someone was planting a device at the gas station. The authorities came flying in hot (this was just after 9/11) and my buddy and I freaked out.
Around two years ago, I saw a woman wait in her car with a trash bag. She waited for a really long time (I was in a restaurant, on the opposite side of the street), so I decided to just stay at the restaurant to see what she was up to. I was one of the few customers there so they didn't ask me to leave as long as I kept ordering drinks. When I was looking at her for a while, I noticed something weird.
She kept punching the trashbag like someone was in there. Finally, when she thought no one could see her, she walked over to the trash and dumped the bag. I decided to check it out, and to be honest, I was scared. I walked outside, looked in the container, opened the trash bag, and I saw... a mannequin. I went back to the restaurant to ask them about it. Turns out, she came there once a month because she had anger issues, and she didn't want to smack her children.
My father, who is an officer, told me that his colleagues were called out for a suspuscious person lying in pajamas in the grass on the side of the road. This was in the middle of the night. His colleagues were in their unmarked car, so once they pulled up, the person started running away scared. They eventually caught the person by jumping on top of them. Turns out, it was just a woman stargazing, lying in her pajamas in the grass.
I was in a parking lot after dark, wandering around looking for a guy's van. He had a package for me. I finally found him but he didn't want to get out of the van. Anyway, I gave him a stack of cash and he gave me a plastic grocery bag of goods. Suddenly, an officer came out of nowhere with his flashlight on me and shouted to hand over the bag and put my hands where he could see them.
I was jumpy so I screeched and dropped the bag. I stepped back, he grabbed it, and he looked inside. He made a choking sort of noise and said, "What the heck?" He asked me what I was doing with this bag. He held it open in my face and I just said it was food. He just stood there looking at me for a moment, handed the bag back to me, and told me to go home. What was in the bag? A brick of 200 frozen mice I was buying off a guy who breeds for snake food in bulk. I always wonder if he thinks about me.
My cousin is an officer and told us the story of seeing a car driving slowly at about 3 a.m. through a neighborhood that had several break-ins. He thought to himself that whoever was in the car was looking for a target, so he put on his lights and pulled them over. He walked up and the driver put the window down. She turned to look at him with fire in her eyes and said, in a harsh whisper, "This better be important because I just got the baby to sleep!" He looked in the back and there was a baby in a car seat, sound asleep. The memory of what it was like when his babies wouldn't sleep rushed back to him and he said, "Oh no! I'm so sorry! Never mind!" He went back to his car and she drove away slowly. He's just glad he didn't wake the baby.
There's an old penitentiary in the middle of the city where I live. It was to be deactivated and it finally was shut down by the governor. People got used to that building being empty. But, for some bureaucratic reasons, they had to reopen it again, temporarily, which meant holding bad people in it again. Anyway, it's a building very close to the road, to residences, and to commercial buildings.
It's not a huge place but it has tall walls built somewhat like a fort. One day, I wasn't working but I was driving by the grocery store and I saw four people rappeling down the wall. It looked a whole lot like that Hollywood scene where the prisoners escape down the rope made of sheets. This was in the middle of the day, too—noon, I think. I had to go around, find a place to park my car, and observe.
I called in HQ and asked if the old penitentiary was still open. While I did this, I realized what was really happening. It didn't look like escapees anymore. It turned out to be grafitti artists hired by the state to paint a big wall facing the houses. This was three years ago. There's a cool painting on it now. I'm still glad I didn't have to chase four inmates that day.
Back in early college, I worked the graveyard shift at an IHOP. On my night off, I was hanging out there with about 20 friends and coworkers in the smoke section. I got overheated in the crowd, so I ducked out to take a walk in the night air. I got about a block away when suddenly, I was surrounded by three patrol cars. A second later, I was being searched on the ground.
They asked where I had been, so I answered truthfully and said that anyone at IHOP would verify I had been there all night. One of the officers went back to the restaurant and asked the large group of people I was with if they knew me. Nobody said a word. After a minute, he turned and left to come arrest me. Thank goodness my manager caught him on the way out and told him that I worked there, verified that I had just left, and asked what was going on. Apparently, someone matching my description and seen heading my way had just finished a spree of armed robberies at a hotel two streets over.
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