Cop poses as homeless man to catch texting drivers

Panhandler or police officer?

Cops in Maryland disguised an officer as a homeless man on Tuesday as part of a sting operation to nail motorists who were texting while driving, FOX5DC reported.

During the operation, an officer, dressed in jeans, sunglasses and a hoodie stood by the side of the road holding up a cardboard sign with some writing on it. Most didn’t inspect the writing too closely. Those who did would have noticed this message: “I am not homeless. I am a Montgomery County Police Officer looking for cell phone texting violations.”

If the disguised officer spotted someone texting, he’d radio to a uniformed officer nearby to pull that car over.

“Ultimately, the law is a hands free device, so it can’t even be in your hand,” Officer Brian Nave told WUSA9.

One driver who was caught, gave the cops credit for their ingenuity.

“It’s smart,” the unidentified person told WUSA9. “It’s really dangerous. I’m not disagreeing.”

During the two-hour sting, police issued 56 traffic citations and 22 warnings for a range of infractions, according to WTOP. A texting ticket cost offenders $70 and a ticket for talking on the phone while driving is an $83 hit.

“If you’re using your thumbs texting while driving down the road, it’s totally distracting because you have to look down to see what you’re typing,” Sgt. Phillip Chapin told WTOP. “When you have your phone to your ear you’re distracted because you only have one hand on the wheel, and it’s hard to react.”