Cops have to deal with a variety of really messed up situations on almost a daily basis. Working with criminals and dangerous situations should be enough, but of course, due to the nature of the job, they also just have to deal with a ton of really weird events. Read on to hear stories from police offers and others about the time that they saw someone doing something really sketchy that turned out to be totally innocuous.
"Late at night, I saw a dude 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 step out, get ready for an easy arrest. Ask him what he's doing. He says he was hired to clean the place out. Ask why he's taking the copper. Owner told him that his payment was the copper piping. Since it wasn't going to be a grocery store after, they didn't need it. I didn't buy it for a minute. Bullcrap detector was screaming at this point.
So I find the owner in our records, call him, and sure as the sky is blue, this dude 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 am, since it was super suspicious. Since the place closed down, there was no AC. As it was the middle of summer, 2a m was the best time to do it and keep cool."
"One of a Sergeant's new officers was late for roll call one night. After about 45 minutes, this Sergeant gets a call from another station asking if he was the Sgt. for the missing officer. Hilarity ensues.
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 sees a guy in a ski mask hop through his neighbor's window. Cop radios the burglary in progress and runs back to his apartment to get his weapon. When he gets back to neighbor's house, he heard a female screaming and the sounds of a struggle. Cop announces himself, kicks open the front door, runs to the kitchen and sees what he thinks is ski mask guy assaulting the neighbor.
The neighbor sees a cop with a weapon screaming at ski mask guy and she completely freaks out. Turns out ski mask guy was neighbor's boyfriend/husband doing some sort of role play fantasy at neighbor's request. At least nobody got shot and apparently, the cop was known thereafter as Officer Kill-the-mood."
"When I was a park ranger, I had to do random checks of the park at night and through the camp ground. In the remote section of the park, I noticed a truck parked off the road and down in the woods at like 2am. So thinking it was just some teenagers fooling around I lit the truck up with the spot light and see just one guy sitting in the driver's seat that looks like he is laughing. Well he opens the door and gets out holding something small and black, and he is wearing a white jump suit and covered in what looks like blood spray. I get out of my SUV and and start try to get his attention. He isn't laughing he is crying, at this point I can tell he is about 40 years old and he won't stop advancing. I'm shouting at him to drop whatever he is holding, but he keeps walking at me and is just outside the light beam so I can't tell what's in his hand. I have my hand on my weapon and at this point I am yelling at him to stop and drop the weapon but dude is just crying and walking at me. I'm literally pleading with this guy to stop and finally draw my weapon on him and thankfully he stops about 10 feet from me and holds up his hands, at that point I can tell it isn't a weapon, but a black belt buckle (the belt buckle was a gift from his little boy).
Once I get him calmed down and I get calmed down myself, turns out he 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, shook me up pretty bad that I had considered deadly force on a man that was just in a bad spot in his life. I get that I didn't know but not sure I could have lived it if it had gone a different direction. For the record, we talked for nearly an hour, he finally called his wife at my request and she came and picked him up with their two young children, she hugged me crying and said thank you, and they left, his vehicle was gone the next day when I went back on duty. It was over 10 years ago, hope dude is doing ok."
"I lived in a large town in the south of the UK in my own terraced house.
Outside my house was a bus stop so it had a few people would who go by outside each day but it wasn't in the heart of the high street.
I had suffered from cluster flies for a few days and they came out of nowhere. We are talking maybe 50 or so which is a little alarming but there was nowhere I could see they were coming from. I got rid of them as quick as they came about and went about my day as normal.
One day that weekend, I had a knock at the door with riot police who stated they believed that someone had died in the property and they were able to enter under an emergency act of law without a warrant. In their wisdom, they spoke to the neighbors about who lived here after a report from an elderly lady visiting the bus stop. The neighbors mentioned my ex girlfriend who they didn't see for a few months. We broke up and she moved out but the police put the flies report and this fact together as me being a killer.
The police were sure I had something to hide as they instantly didn't believe I owned the house. I work in IT, so 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 then wait under surveillance while my house was searched and riot police all in the street.
I am a keen gardener and upstairs in the airing cupboard I was attempting to grow some seeds. The police were convinced that 23 year old me was instead running a weed factory.....
In the end they found no dead body and they realized their mistake when I pointed out the 50 cacti around the house they conveniently didn't notice. 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 spiny flora and not the next serial killer."
"There's an old penitentiary in the middle of the city here. 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. That means holding bad people in again and even though the neighbors weren't happy about it, they didn't think much of it, since it was temporary.
Anyway, it is a building very close to the road, to residences and commercial buildings. It's not a huge place but it has tall walls built somewhat like a fort, or a castle.
Then one day, I wasn't even working, I'm driving by the street behind it and I see 4 people rappelling down the freaking wall. They weren't doing it each on their own rope, they were doing it in the same rope, and it looked a whole lot like that Hollywood scene where the prisoners escape down the sheets rope.
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 and just get its status.
While I did this, I got to really see what they were doing and it didn't look like escapees anymore.
It turned out to be grafitti artists hired by the state to paint that big wall facing the houses. Only part of the building was reactivated and this wall was on the deactivated wing. The grafitti artists were assessing something.
This was 3 years ago. There's a cool painting on it now. I'm still glad I didn't have to chase 4 inmates that day."
"My dad told me about a time, back in the 80's, when he had a really interesting stop. My father was sitting in his cruiser around the corner from a bar. A car drives by, swerving a little with exhaust coming for the tailpipe, signifying a recently started vehicle. Pulls the guy over. Smells like the driver had recently been to the pub, and also notices a large staff in the backseat. He has the driver step out, then inquires about the staff. The driver tells my dad, 'I'm a black belt in Kung Fu, I use it in class.' So my father, unconvinced, ask him to demonstrate his proficiency with the staff, which has the added benefit of proving his sobriety in a sort of impromptu field sobriety test. The driver puts on a little show for dad on the side of the road.
Dad's enjoying the show, but starts 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 cops.
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.
THE PASSERBY THOUGHT MY DAD WAS GETTING HIS BUTT KICKED BY A NINJA."
"It was just after midnight and we got a call of a suspicious person looking in to a home.
We respond code 2 (lights, no sirens) and switch off the lights before we get close to mask our approach.
As we pull up to the house, we see no signs of anyone at the front of the house, so we walk around the rear and BAM, guy with a crowbar wrenching on the back door.
I yell, 'Police, drop the crowbar!' Dude starts screaming and nearly crying because we scared him so bad. Our hands were on our weapons, but after yelling the challenge and hearing him scream and drop the crowbar, we de-escalated the situation completely. When you hear a door being wrenched on, you know there may be an improvised weapon involved. Hence for officer safety, we were ready should he charge us.
Our service does not have Tasers. We train constantly in advanced hand to hand tactics. We are getting Tasers soon though.
Turns out he went to Tim Hortons to get a coffee as him and the wife had a few drinks and he forgot his keys and cell phone in the house. She was so wasted, she forgot he left and locked the doors like she does every night.
Poor dude tried to wake his wife up and 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.
I honestly wish we had body cams so we could replay the poor dude's face and high pitched scream."
"One night I was coming home from a friend's house, it was late (like 1 or 2 am), and their house is known for a bit of partying, and this was a relatively rural area so cops don't have much to do. I hadn't been drinking or anything that night and there wasn't a party. So, as I'm driving home down the windy back roads, I hit a skunk. Well, I didn't HIT it, it went basically right under my car and I heard a bit of a noise.
I keep driving, but after 5 or 6 minutes, my AC starts pumping out the worst smell you've ever smelled. I know it's the skunk. I'm only like 10 minutes from home, so I try to stick it out. I roll down the windows and kinda stick my head out, Ace Ventura style. It's not working, the smell is overwhelming. Now, I have to vomit. I pull over, put my hazards on, and start puking on the side of the road.
After a minute or so, a cop pulls up and puts his lights on. I'm still vomiting. He gets out and sees this mid-twenties dude with tattoos and a nose ring puking. As he's walking towards me, he starts saying 'Well, well, looks like maybe someone had a bit too much to drink toni- OH JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE HECK!?' As he's walking by my car, he can smell the skunk. He starts dry-heaving and pukes a little bit, while through my vomiting I'm saying, 'I - hurl - hit a skunk, I think - hurl - it's stuck in the undercarriage.' We both kinda just back off until we can talk again, and then he helped me poke the skunk off of the bottom of my car while we both dry-heaved, using his extendable baton (nightstick? Do we still call it that?). Then once it was off he just kinda nodded and was like, 'Ok, good luck kid,' and got in his car, we both seemed pretty embarrassed.
Whoever you were, cop, sorry you didn't get the easy arrest you thought you had. But, thanks for helping me get that skunk off of my car."
"I use to work for the US Coast Guard. We were doing a security boarding on a vessel planning on entering port with some hazardous cargo. Me and one other guy are in the engine room, making sure everything is kosher, when we catch a glimpse of some boots barely sticking out from under a piece of machinery.
Since, as far as we knew, all crew were present and accounted for above deck, we were understandably concerned. We radio up asking about it, get told all present and accounted for up above. So we're thinking stowaway or someone being smuggled.
Luckily it was neither, just a dude who legit fell asleep while doing some maintenance. He shared a name with one of the other crew, so that's how we missed his absence. Apparently they (our guy up above) checked the same guy twice. Go fig."
"I was doing patrols around local industrial units one night. We've had lots of break ins at some tool hire and DIY stores that are in these various industrial units. So far the night has been boring, nothing exciting bar the usual trucks parked up and cars belonging to companies left in the street till the workers return in the morning. The area is also known for narcotics use by hard core users and in the late evening by kids trying to hide it from their parents.
We pull into the last of the streets on my list of ones to check. As I pull in, I see there's a car parked up with rear lights on. Already suspect as all we've seen all night were taxis and empty cars. It also is unusual as I've never in the years of working there seen any cars at the time of night in the street. Pulling a bit closer I can see the driver seems to be shuffling around with something inside the car, apparently unaware we're approaching.
A little closer and I pull up behind the car to run the plates through. In the mean time, I send my probationer who's only got a few weeks in the job out to get some ID and establish who we're dealing with.
My probationer returns to the car a few moments later with the guys ID and his story.
Their response will remain with me forever:
'It's a man in drag, he's been out to a gay club and is taking off all his outfit, fake knockers and make up before he goes home in the estate to his wife and kids who do not know.'
All the while the probationer has lips pursed and trying in vain to hold back fits of laughter, not at what he's doing, just the fact that for this quiet town, this was the last thing we could have listed as to expect this check was going to yield.
I decide that I'd rather not cause more embarrassment and that I was satisfied he lived around the corner.
As we return the license to the driver and get back in the car my co-pilot tells me, 'Yeah, he was removing his fake ooglers as I got to the window, I'm not sure who was more shocked, him or me.'
Turning around to exit the cul-de-sac, I confirmed it was a man in drag, now hurriedly trying to change out of his outfit and makeup to get away."
"I'm an officer with the Portuguese National Republican Guard (Similar to the French Gendarmes), we're generally responsible for policing rural low population areas (though we do also take on some military/expeditionary roles, like our peace keeping presence in Timor). The point is, if you live in rural Portugal, we're the ones who are going to come when you need help, or have trouble.
About 2 years ago there was a murder, old man was stabbed and bled out in his kitchen, the wife came home to find him dead lying in the counter. She called 112 (911 equivalent) and I was dispatched along with some colleagues. Paramedics confirmed the death on site but we didn't want to move the body before the Judiciary police could have a look and do forensics. Not only that but the old lady wasn't doing so good with the shock, so after about 20 minutes of her hyperventilating, we got her in the ambulance and paramedics took her to the hospital. That means me and my colleague were left guarding the body and trying to keep things as we found them, while still looking around for evidence.
About an hour later, we hear a truck arrive, my colleague goes up from the basement where we were, but i stay longer to have a better look around. Come back up 10 minutes later to find the body gone, I look outside and see 2 guys shoving it into the back of a non-descriptive refrigerated truck.
I come out running and yelling with my weapon drawn, thinking the murderer was back and trying to cover their tracks. My colleague steps out from behind the truck.
Turns out the morgue's vehicle was broken, and they were using a rental to transport the bodies. The 2 guys I saw were morgue workers just putting the body in the truck to carry it to the morgue, while my colleague was talking with a third. The judiciary police only came about 2 hours later."
"I'm a campus police officer and I was working the overnight shift. This of course means patrolling the parking lots and from time to time you find people parked in dark spots doing various....things.
On night I turn a corner and see a car in an empty lot so I drive up to it. As my lights passover it, I see a guy sitting in the passenger seat leaned back, head laid back and mouth open and then I see what looks like a human head bobbing up and down in front of him...
I've seen this before. I'm thinking someone is having a good time.
Turns out it's a guy from out of state who has a kid who goes to my college who was set to graduate the next day. The 'head' is one of the balloons he bought for her at a nearby truckstop. He was asleep and left the air on and it got caught in an air current in front of him. Thus the bobbing up and down...
I woke him to check on him and eventually told him what it initially looked like. His only reply was 'Yeah, I wish.'"
"At around 2 am on a weeknight, I see a guy bolt from a house in a quiet residential burglary hotspot. His face is covered, he's wearing sunglasses or something similar and the kind of dark clothing you catch burglars in.
As I follow him and start to shout up on the radio, the cars parked between us clear to reveal he is running on a lead behind the tiniest dog I've ever seen, a clearly uncontrollable pooch that is having the time of its life. I just kept going.
And I know it wasn't dognapping, because the dog was on a lead, he was stopping to snuff at lampposts and stuff. The man was running as he was trying to keep up with the dog while letting it go at the pace it wanted to. He ran from the house but the front door was closed; doglet took off when they hit the pavement. When I got a closer look the glasses were tinted, not sunglasses. I don't know why he had his face covered, it was a scarf and it was autumn but we don't have sumptuary laws in our country and you can wear what you like, I'm not the fashion police. I spoke to him when I saw him later on but I don't remember the dog's name, sorry.
Also it wasn't an expensive dog. It was a cheap dog. Cheap dogs have more fun I reckon."
"Patrolling a military housing neighborhood, I had noticed a suspicious van parked around the area over the past few nights, always in a different spot but I could never catch it coming or going.
So around the 5th night of this, I hide my car and wait. Sure enough, the van rolls through. I waited a few minutes before following. Turn the corner and light up 3 guys rummaging through all the trash cans left on the street.
Turns out, they were part of CID (or Criminal Investigation Command). They suspected someone in the area was cooking crystal, and were going through that garbage cans to find discarded ingredients.... I only found this out after getting chewed out after they called my supervisors. I still don't feel bad, no one told me."