Cops Sort Of Pretend To Be Homeless, Give Out Many Very Real Tickets

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Can you say a cop is ‘undercover’ when they’re holding a sign announcing exactly who they are and what they’re doing? Maybe, if the sign is scrawled on cardboard, the officers are out of uniform, standing by an off-ramp, and everyone’s brain is conditioned to read people like that as homeless? The San Bernadino Police gave this a go, to dramatic results.


The goal of this sort-of-undercover sting was to bust texting drivers, seat-belt use-deniers, and other forms of distracted driving. The sting was remarkably successful, too — 50 vehicle stops, 33 cell phone violations, 15 seat belt violations, and the remaining cars impounded for license issues.

The police officers dressed in what appear to be normal, casual summer wear — the sort of thing you might wear to mow a lawn or attend a BBQ at somebody’s house that you gave up trying to impress decades ago, and carried signs that read

I am NOT homeless

SB police looking for seatbelt/cell phone violations

Which is, pretty much, about as accurate a description as you could ask for. We’re all so conditioned to reading the image of a person standing at an offramp holding cardboard as a homeless panhandler, that it seems nobody actually bothered to read the sign. Well, maybe some people did. I’m not entirely sure I would have.


It should be noted that, as far as police sting operations go, this one appears to be very-budget-friendly, especially if they got some off-brand markers and didn’t spring for one of those swanky Sharpies, like some kind of goddamn Rockefeller.

(Thanks, Arpad!)

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