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Deep Cover: Cops Pose as 'Not Homeless' to Bust Distracted Drivers

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 27, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

I know, we all do the same thing at red lights and interstate exit ramps -- try not to make eye contact with the panhandlers and their cardboard signs. But here's a reason to pay more attention next time: those homeless-looking beggars might be cops.

If they see you unbuckled or texting while driving, you're getting a ticket. San Bernardino police officers pulled over 53 cars and issued 50 citations in a three-hour sting this month, all while posed as panhandlers.

Blown Cover

SBPD officers might have been carrying the most honest cardboard and marker signs in highway off-ramp history: "I am NOT homeless. SB Police looking for seatbelt/cell phone violations."

But the notice wasn't enough for most drivers, who remained too consumed by their cell phones to notice officers approaching their cars. Detective Devin Peck told ABC News, "I made 13-14 stops and out of all of them, only one woman said she noticed and read the sign, but by that time it was too late. That just goes to show how distracting a cell phone really is in the hands of a driver."

In all, SBPD issued 33 texting while driving tickets, 15 seat belt violation tickets, and impounded five cars when it turned out the drivers were either unlicensed or driving on a suspended license. And all in just three hours of work.

Distracted Driver

Cops everywhere are cracking down on distracted driving and texting while driving. This particular operation seems like an effective way to go about it. Distracted driving has always been an issue and the proliferation of cell phones, apps, and social media have only exacerbated the problem.

Next time you see someone with a sign at an intersection, you might want to give them a second thought. It could save you a little time and a lot of money.

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