As many of us can confirm, talking to the police can be a very tense, scary experience. In fact, many law experts advise that you never talk to police officers unless absolutely necessary. Even when you're saying neutral, innocent things, it's incredibly easy to accidentally incriminate yourself or others around you.
Sometimes it feels like you're guilty or under some kind of pressure even when you haven't done anything wrong. It's even worse when the cop catches you doing something that looks sketchy or illegal, but in reality is completely guiltless. Their reactions can range from chucking at their mistake, to being angry that they didn't catch anybody red-handed. Here are some of Reddit's craziest, most anxiety-producing stories about close calls with the police that had awkward explanations. Content edited for clarity.
"My friend asked to borrow my car to go pick up groceries, so I gave him the keys to my Ford Temp. He went to the parking lot, saw a very similar tempo, opened the door, put the key in the ignition, wiggled it a bit, and started the car. He went to the grocery store, but couldn't find walnuts so he had to go to another store. He drove to the second store and locked the door before entering the store. When he came back, the door wouldn't unlock with my key. He called me and I found a way there, but when I walked up, I realized it wasn't my car. Honestly when I walked over to 'my car,' I looked at the license plate and thought, 'That doesn't look like my plates...Why are they different? Do I actually know my plates?' Then I walked around the car a few times and was seriously confused for about a minute before I realized, 'This isn't my car.'
We called the cops and when they showed up, we explained the situation and she seriously didn't know what to do other than laugh. Finally, we got the ok to call a tow truck to unlock the car, drove the car back, with the police following closely behind, and dropped it off. Somehow, just as we were taking the groceries out of the car, the actual owner came out and saw this. After we explained what happened, the owner asked the cop, 'What do I do now that someone else's key will open my door!?'
The cop said, 'Maybe you should lock your stupid door.'"
"I was traveling down a two-lane highway in Texas when the Beastie Boys' 'Brass Monkey' started playing on the radio. I cranked that ish and started dancing this horrible white boy car dance. Then along came the Texas state trooper.
He pulled me over and as soon as I handed him my license and insurance, he asked me what the heck I was doing. I meekly explained that I was dancing to a song. He asked me to turn the radio back on, and wouldn't you know it, the Beasties were still jammin'. Then he asked me to demonstrate.
I replied, 'Huh?' Then he asked if I wanted a citation for reckless behavior, or if I wanted to demonstrate the dance moves. I complied with the dance request and he began to laugh his butt off. He ended up letting me off with a verbal warning and told me to not dance like that while I drive. This was when I was 17, and I'm 30 now, so 13 years ago. I have no memory of his name."
"One night in high school, my buddies and I spent the evening making a board game called Robots In The Underworld. It was actually pretty cool. Afterward, I was driving home at like 1 am and I guess I swerved a little because I was tired. A cop pulled me over and asked if I'd been drinking. I hadn't been and I said so.
'Where you coming from?' he asked.
'A friend's house,' I answered. 'Just driving home.'
He then aimed his flashlight at the homemade board game sitting in my passenger seat. 'What's in the box?' he asked suspiciously.
'Oh!' I said, excited. 'It's a board game we made tonight! It's called Robots In The Underworld, and the game pieces are these little robots we made...'
The look on his face said everything. Clearly, I had not been drinking at a party. Clearly, I did not get invited to parties with adult beverages. I was free to go."
"A friend and his little gang in high school used to go streaking all over Atlanta, and one of their favorite destinations was Waffle House. One night they had an idea to have one of their buddies strip down and get in a giant duffle bag. The plan was to drop him off inside Waffle House and have him jump out, run a few laps, then get back in the truck, and drive away.
Right as they got him in the duffle bag, they saw a cop car start to turn down the alley they were hiding in. In an absolute panic, they pulled this guy out of the bag completely naked and all piled into the one truck. All 6 of them, including one naked guy laying across all of their laps.
When the cops asked what the heck they were doing. They just said, 'We...uh, we thought it would be funny.'
'You thought it would be funny to have a naked guy lay on top of all of you?' asked the officer.
'Yeah, we just thought it would be funny.'
Then the cop skeptically let them go. Also, the initial plan was to leave the kid in the duffle bag but at the last second, they pulled him. That turned out to be the right move because when the cop walked up and the first thing he said to his partner was, 'Check that bag.' The story would be quite different if he had been left in the bag."
"When I was in my early 20s, I was working full time (50+ hours a week) and going to school full time. I finally had a day off from both work and school, and it had been months. I went out the night before and was planning on sleeping in. That did not happen. At 7 on a Sunday morning, there was a loud banging on my door. I was alone in my apartment, which was on the third floor of a three-family house.
I muddled my way out of bed and heard shouting. 'This is the police, OPEN UP!' I didn't live in the best neighborhood, so cops being around a lot was pretty normal, but they had never been to my house.
I opened the door in my pajamas on three hours of sleep and SUPER confused. There were FIVE plainclothes detectives on my landing with their weapons drawn. They looked about as confused as I felt when they saw the tiny girl on the other side of the door.
Then they started asking me questions. I was still half asleep and completely out of it, so I answered them to the best of my ability. They were asking where I was the night before, if that was my car in the parking lot, and had anyone else driven my car. They were getting more and more suspicious of me because I didn't have the information they were looking for. Finally, one of the cops burst out, 'If no one else has been in your car recently, why is there a do-rag on the front seat?!'
The 'do-rag' was my apron for my restaurant job. I had to go outside with them and unfold it to prove it...on a Sunday morning, in my PJs, when I live right next door to a church where mass was starting. I don't know if it was more awkward for me or them after they finally figured out I wasn't involved in whatever they were looking for. They sort of apologized, and then just left."
"A few years ago, I was putting primer coats of paint on a car to get something onto the metal to prevent rust. I was in an abandoned parking lot (business that owned it had done some resizing and had a large back lot). I covered all the glass and anything I didn't want painted with newspaper and got to work. I was also wearing a mask around my nose and mouth to filter out the fumes.
Then a police cruiser pulled up, lights on and parked near me. I set the can of paint down and walked over to the officer. He unrolled the window and with the most dead serious look on his face asked, 'What are you doing here?'
I could not help myself and before I could stop it, I pulled the mask off, looked at him just as seriously, and replied, 'Baking a cake, officer.'
He was completely silent and I realized what I'd just said, beginning to reconsidering what just sprung from my mouth. He looked me up and down and just started howling with laughter. When he caught his breath he said, 'Well, yeah that was a pretty dumb question. You are clearly taking the precautions to keep this contained, how long do you think it will take?'
I replied, 'I want to do a few coats and I have to sand in between, so until Friday.'
He said he'd let the other guys know so they wouldn't hassle my 'baking' and drove off."
"I dated a girl during college who worked at the local Dunkin Donuts just off campus. She was over one night and after our activities, she fell asleep. Around 2:30 am, she woke up, realized she was still at my place, woke me up, and told me her uniform and everything was at home. She asked if I could bring her home since she had to be at work by 4:30, so I got up, we walked to the car, and she immediately fell asleep again. I figured if I got her home quickly, then she could get in some more rest there rather than wake up fully now and get stuck with only three hours of sleep.
As I was driving through campus, I got pulled over for speeding. I went to a state school, so our campus police were actual state troopers, not just rent-a-cops. The officer walked over and asks for my license and registration. Meanwhile, my girlfriend was still passed out, hoodie hood pulled over her head, curled up in the front seat. The cop asked me what the story was, and I, being an idiot, replied, 'Well, she's passed out and I wanted to get her home before she wakes up and realizes what happened.'
Naturally, I realized this made me sound like an assailant who was trying to dump the body before the girl came to. The cop told me to exit the car, patted me down, and handcuffed me. He said he was just detaining me and wanted to talk to the girl. So I was sitting on the front hood of his cruiser, watching him walk up to my passenger window and wake my girlfriend up. He recognized her, seemed surprised and said, 'Jess, what are you doing here?'
My girlfriend realized she was talking to a cop and sat up. The officer explained what happened and my girlfriend started laughing her butt off. She explained what happened, which matched my story, and the cop came back, laughing, and uncuffed me. He apologized, I said no problem it's just your job, and we all had a good laugh. Then the officer told my girlfriend he'd see her at the end of his shift to get his coffee, as per usual, and we drove off."
"It was summer, about 3 am, and my roommates and I had just returned from a party. We heard a kitten mewing somewhere in the neighborhood, and after an hour or so, we decided to go find the little dude.
We finally located the kitten across the street, hiding in a series of bushes in my neighbor's front yard that were about 3 feet deep and 10 feet long. I was on all fours, but facing the street, and my roommates were in similar positions around the bushes trying to capture this kitten. We were mewing at her and calling commands to each other when suddenly a cop pulled up, shined his light on me, and ordered us out of the bushes.
Somehow we wastedly convinced the cop not to charge us with trespassing and got him to help us find the kitten. He even called for backup! Then we brought the kitten to an animal shelter where she was adopted, and hopefully now lives happily ever after."
"I was bored one night so I made a cape out of a towel and went to Starbucks to hang out with my friends. As I was driving home, I took a back way to get to my house, which a police officer saw and took to mean I was avoiding him.
He followed me and pulled me over. I didn't notice him at first, so he blipped his siren which scared me from the loud noise. I parked and he came to look at me. My eyes had dilated, apparently, from the shock of the loud siren, and I was really jittery from the rush of adrenaline that came when with the fear.
He told me I looked strung out. I promised I wasn't, but he didn't believe me and had me get out of the car. At that point, he saw my cape, which did not do much to help my case. He did a sobriety test searched my car for anything illegal while I sat in the back seat of his cruiser. After a while he reluctantly sent me on my way with a word of advice. 'If you are doing are illegal substances, and I think you are even though I can't prove it, you need to stop doing them. They will ruin your life. But, if you're telling the truth...good luck getting through life looking as strung out as you do.' Then he left and I drove the rest of the block to my house."
"My friends and I took a pickup truck and a car down to the beach one day, bringing the usual essentials (brews, weed, paraphernalia). We left the car on a street and drove the truck onto the beach (which was allowed). By midnight, the cops had driven by us twice but didn't seem to really care, seeing as nobody was around us, there weren't enough of us to to be loud enough to annoy those living nearby, and we weren't harming anything.
Around 1 am, my friend Justine needed to get home, so our friend John came and picked her up. About 20 minutes later, we were all tired too and decided to head out as well. My friend 'Chris' then whipped out his backpack and exclaimed how he had these black cat fireworks he'd been dying to set off, so we agreed to ignite some as we drove off the beach. Stage 1 of the plan went fine until we discovered the road entrance was blocked by John's car stuck in the sand.
We pushed it out after ten or so minutes, then drove to the other vehicle we had parked. Right as we pulled up, eight cop cars raced out of nowhere and piled up behind us. Chris, at that moment, hadn't realized that we were the soon-to-be-boned party and waved from the truck bed. It felt very Grand Theft Auto---eight cops synchronously jumped out, weapons drawn, and yelled, 'WHERE'S THE WEAPON?!' There were four of us guys in the bed of the truck, so they had assumed we were some gang up to no good in the neighborhood.
The cops were visibly relieved when the two girls with us got out of the truck. They must have thought we were the dumbest people on Earth when we explained that we had no weapon, just fireworks. One of the neighbors had reported shots fired and possible gang activity. Many a Minor In Possession charge, firework charge, possession charge, and an hour handcuffed on the sidewalk later, we were free to chain smoke our trauma away the whole drive home. Good times."