Law Enforcement From Around The World Share Suspicious Acts That Turned Out To Be Innocent

Law Enforcement From Around The World Share Suspicious Acts That Turned Out To Be Innocent

"It's not what it looks like!" That's what they always say when they're caught red-handed. Of course, sometimes it really isn't what it looks like. It's actually something totally benign -- or at least less criminal than it appeared to be.

These are stories of law enforcement officers from all around the world who caught people behaving suspiciously, only to find out their actions were totally legitimate. Of course, we've also peppered in some stories from the suspicious persons themselves. You know, just to keep it interesting.

You have the right to remain awesome.

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26. Who's walking whom?

At around 2am 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.

Some clarification. The dog was on a lead, he was stopping to snuff at lampposts, it wasn't a dognapping. 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.


25. When nature calls

Found a guy parked behind a middle school around 5:30am 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. It wasn't until he drove away and I looked around where his car was parked and I found out what he was doing.... He had taken a massive dump that was just sitting on top of the snow still steaming. Made me laugh so hard all I could do was kick snow over it and go 10-8 (available for calls).

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24. Prison break

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.

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23. Sleepers wake

My cousin is a cop and  he told us this story.

He saw a car driving slowly at about 3am through a neighborhood that had had several break-ins. He thinks to himself that they're looking for a target, so he puts on his lights and pulls them over. He walks up and the driver puts the window down and she turns to look at him with fire in her eyes and says, in a harsh whisper, "This had better be important because I just got the baby to sleep!" He looks in the back and there's a baby in a car seat, sound asleep.

The memory of what it was like when his babies wouldn't sleep rushes back, and he says, "Oh no! I'm so sorry! Never mind!" And goes back to his car. She drives away slowly. He's just glad he didn't wake the baby.

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22. These guys know how to have fun

One time my husband was patrolling when he spotted a guy who was in a straight jacket come round the corner of town that he was patrolling. That's just instantly 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 can’t get out. So my husband asked to call his friend just incase, and low and behold he wasn’t even lying.


21. The always return to the scene of the crime

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 peacekeeping 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. An 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 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 gun out, 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


20. Officer Interruptus

This story comes from a family friend who was a Sergeant in a major West Coast city:​

One of his new officers was late for roll call one night. After about 45 minutes, the Sergeant gets a call from another station asking if he was the commander 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 shotgun. 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 cop with shotgun screaming at ski mask guy and she completely freaks out. Turns out ski mask guy was neighbor's boyfriend/husband doing some sort of roleplay fantasy at neighbor's request. At least nobody got shot and apparently, the cop was known thereafter as Officer C---block.

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19. Never have kids

3am on a weeknight and I pull up behind a car at a light. The light is green and the car is stopped but running (foot was on the break). Light turns red so I wait behind him. Light turns green again and this dude isn’t moving. So my partner and I quietly exit our vehicle and approach his. He was completely passed out. Asleep. With the car in drive. We woke him up and talked to him to make sure he wasn’t hammered. Turns out 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!

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18. Pokemon Go F Yourself

I find so many "suspicious vehicles" in our national veterans cemetery in my jurisdiction. They almost always turn out to be Pokemon Go-ers.

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17. Holy moley

One time me and my partner rolled up on three individuals (two adults, one kid) who looked as though they were trying to break into a vehicle. As we talked to them the lead guy went into an overly complicated explanation that at the time didn’t make sense. We ran them in just to verify their identities and if they had any priors. To our surprise it was the local minister and his relatives. They have always given generously to our athletic department amongst other things. I guess one of their congregation had asked if they would help get into their vehicle due to having lost the keys. Boy did we feel foolish afterwards.

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16. Burn baby burn

Guy was arrested for arson. A neighbor in a subdivision backing up to the farm saw him methodically move all the valuables out of the barn over a period of a week. Then closely mowed the hayfields for about 50 yards radius all around the barn. He was puzzling over the mowing when he noticed the farmer walk all around the barn, pouring something from "a blue gas can" right at the bottom of the barn walls. Neighbor looks away for less than a minute, when he looks back the barn is fully engulfed in flames!

He calls the fire department and reports the farmer has set his barn on fire, with gas or something. Fire department is on-scene in about 5 minutes, and reports the barn is already beyond saving. They do smell diesel fuel. A quick investigation says it's arson: field is mowed to prevent spread. The burned barn has nothing much in it, but the other barn and shed overhang has a lot of stuff recently placed, with grass underneath still green. Definite marks of petroleum accelerant.

They arrest the farmer on the spot, he says nothing. Farmer refuses to talk to the DA and asks for his lawyer.

I am on the jury where the prosecution states they will prove the farmer set his own barn on fire. Barn was insured, insurance fraud was the motive. They call all the expected witnesses: the neighbor, play the 911 call, interview the firemen who smelled fuel and saw marks of accelerant on the ground, etc. Defense does no cross examination at all.

Prosecution is done, defense has their turn.

Defense calls the farmer, and first question asked is: “Let’s cut to the chase. Did you burn your barn down?”


“Why did you do it?”

“It was old, and rotten, with termites. Going to fall down. Not safe.”

“Hm. Have you always burned down old farm buildings?”

“Yep, and my daddy did before me. It’s a farm.”

“Are you aware that you need a permit to burn debris in this county?”

“Been doin’ it like that on this farm since forever, never had no permit.”

“The fine is up to $50. Oh, wait, I forgot, you're zoned ‘active agriculture’, and are exempt, no permit needed. But, why didn’t you tell any of this to the police?”

“They didn’t ask till after they put handcuffs on me and took me to the police station. They told me anything I said would be used against me, and said I had the right to remain silent, and THEN some lawyer guy came in and told me I was going to prison for insurance fraud. I remember Perry Mason said don’t talk to anyone but your lawyer. So I didn’t.”

“Did you file an insurance claim?”

“What for? The barn wasn’t worth anything in that state, and I moved all the stuff out.”

“I suggested we try to talk them out of this. You said you wanted your day in court. What’s up with that?”

“They came on my land, arrested me without telling me what for. Told me later it was for arson and insurance fraud, and put that in the newspapers. All my friends, relatives, and neighbors know about this. They made me look dishonest. I want to make sure everyone knows the real facts. I figure this is better than them just dropping it, and everyone wondering whether they just decided not to send an old man to prison.”

“Defense rests.”

It was epic.

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15. Flies and lies

I am the suspect in this situation. 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 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 clusters of 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 at the 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 neighbours about who lived here after a report from an elderly lady visiting the bus stop. The neighbours 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 I make good money 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 from seeds. The police were convinced that 23 year old me was instead running a grow op....

In the end they found no dead body and they 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 and not the next serial killer.

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14. Everybody was kung-fu fighting

My dad told me about a time, back in the 80's. My father was sitting in his cruiser, around the corner form 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 booze on the driver, while also noticing a large staff in the backseat. He has the driver step out, than 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, 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.

Passersby thought my dad was getting his butt kicked at the side of the road by a ninja.

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13. The cop and the copper

The first one that comes to mind for me:

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 stop 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. My BS detector was screaming at this point.

So I find the owner in our records, call him, and sure as you please... 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 2am, since it was super suspicious. Since the place closed down, there was no AC. As it was the middle of summer, 2am was the best way to do it and keep cool.

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12. This guy's not innocent, just weird

I was recently conducting a house search on a guy we'd arrested in a local club with loads of substances on him.

In his room I found an oversized, out of place, vase with false flowers in them, suspicion raised.

I take the flowers out and in the bottom I saw what I believed to be a balaclava. Here we go.

I took it out, unfolded it, and it turned out to be a jumper for a small dog. Hmmm.

I look in the vase again, I see a blue velvet drawstring bag. I manipulate it slightly and it rustles, with the feeling of lots of little packets inside. I remove it slowly, open the bag and inside are some retro scrabble pieces. What's going on?

We didn't find any further substances in his room; we did however find a big screw-off sized machete under his mattress wrapped up in a tea towel, so that was interesting... Still confused about the contents of that vase though.

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11. Taking a dump

I'm a cop.

One night I come across a pickup truck parked behind a small business, backed up to the dumpster. Guy is next to the truck emptying out trash from the bed of the truck and throwing it into the dumpster. Figured it was someone illegally dumping their crap in someone else's dumpster to avoid having to go to the landfill. Make contact with the guy who says he owns the business and that he is renovating his home, but ran out of room in his dumpster there. He comes back listed as the contact/keyholder for the business and the truck he was driving was registered to the business, so it was all good.

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Police officer here.

Long story short, guy gets locked out of his house by his wife and we catch him trying to get back in to his house.

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.

Turns out he went to get a coffee as he and the wife had had a few drinks and he forgot his keys and cell phone in the house. She was so hammered she forgot he left and locked the doors like she does every night.

Poor dude 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.

I honestly wish we had body cams so we could replay the poor guy's face and high pitched scream.

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9. Cops and robbers

My grandfather was the only police 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 who looked like he was bleeding badly. And he was weirded out by the overwhelming smell of cherries. And he saw another police officer inside.

Turns out the children of the owners were making a home movie of themselves playing cops and robbers. The blood 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.

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8. Investigating the cops

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 (think NCIS, the show, but Army version). They suspected someone in the area was cooking substances, 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.

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7. A bit of the green stuff

I'm the guy who was doing something suspicious.

When I used to work at a grocery store I would get off some time between 10pm and 12am, and I also 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. A solid 3 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 cops thought it was when they pulled me over. Weed? A weapon?

They were doing their deal where one talks to me and the other checks me out from behind when the one behind me busted out laughing. "Are those BRUSSEL SPROUTS?!"

They let me go a minute later.

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6. This game caused so much suspicious behavior

I was just starting on the street around the time Pokemon Go was taking off. So many contacts in the middle of the night that were just people trying to catch Pokemon.

Me: "Ma'am I noticed you're driving in circles around this closed business at 3am."

Person: "Yeah, there's a herd of Charmanders here and it's too busy during the day."

Me: "Oh thanks for letting me know!" Pulls out phone and opens Go.

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5. A tale of two idiots

This is part of a more elaborate story. At one point while in jail suspect 1 told a suspected hitman that if he took a deal he wouldn’t get paid. Everyone freaked out, as this was clear confirmation #1 had hired #2 for a killing as suspected. After much investigation they were both innocent (just a series of really dumb things and belligerence toward officers preventing explanations). Turns out the comment was because genius #1 had the idea to sue everyone for his arrest, and was trying to say that if #2 took a plea deal he wouldn’t be able to get in on the lawsuit.

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4. Stowaway

Former US Coast Guard here. 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.

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3. Na-na na-na CATMAN

I'm a cop here.

I work midnight shifts. One night I’m sitting in my cruiser at like 2am doing paperwork. I see an older model car driving slowly around the area and then pull into an abandoned parking lot and black out in the corner by the woods. No lighting. This is for a building that is being torn down. This is not normal. So I’ll look into it.

I pull up to him and get out. “How are you doing? “ I asked. “What’s going on in this parking lot tonight?” He’s got bags full of something in his back seat, and he’s alone. He’s an older guy and he seems a little off.

He tells me, “I’m here to feed the cats”. I think to myself that this is a BS answer and attempt to call his bluff.

“Ok. Where are the ....”

Then like 40 cats come running out of the woods. The guys asks, “May I?” I say “um..sure?” He gets out of the car and starts feeding the cats. (Dry food from his bags.) The closest thing I can describe it as was the scene in Ace Ventura where his pets all come out of hiding.

“Ok. Go on about your business. I guess.” And I left.


3. All blown up

That's easy. 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...

Ive seen this before. I'm thinking someone is having a good time.


Turns out its 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 here at a nearby truck stop, 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."

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1. Every family has a secret

I'm a police officer.

I was doing patrols around local industrial units one night. We've had lots of break-ins at 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 know for substance use by hardcore 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 club and is taking off all his outfit 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 licence to the driver and get back in the car my co-pilot tells me, "Yeah, he was removing his dress 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.