Should Have Kept the Front Door Locked

Uniformed patrol had investigated a shooting where two suspects armed with a rifle had attempted to kill a guy. The victim was shot twice and would survive.  A witness knew one of the suspects by his first name and where he lived. Patrol was trying to solve it, and a sergeant called the house asking for the named suspect. He answered the phone, but when they made the house no one answered the door. They were sure he was in there, but would need a search warrant. They probably went about it a little ass-backwards but they were trying.  They called us for advice. I explained the procedure, but told them I would go have a look at the house. We were sitting about a half a block away when I saw a man from the gas company pull up across the street. I watched him get out of his van and enter the suspect’s house. He was carrying tools, so I hatched a plan. I told my partner to just play along.

We pulled up to the suspect’s house, and I began pounding on the door. No response. I pounded louder and began yelling, “Is the gas man in there?” I continued to pound, hollering about the gas man. After a short time, I heard a voice ask, “Who is it?” Police. We are looking for the gas man.”

A woman opened the door, and I again asked if the gas man was inside. I asked if he was wearing a badge or showed any identification. I informed the female that we had several cases, where suspects were posing as the gas man to gain entry. She immediately opened the door and pointed to the basement yelling, “He’s down there.” The gas man hearing all the noise came to the top of the stairs with a frightened look on his face. I ordered him over to me, and he began saying he was innocent. He said that he was truly indeed a legitimate gas man on a service call. Mind you he was in full uniform, and this being Detroit, he had about twenty identification cards around his neck. Just as I was reaching for him, our shooting suspect came out a side room. My hand went directly from the gas man to our suspect and we had our shooter.    He was in cuffs and out the door, before he could figure out what happened to him. Everyone in the house was now confused and were shouting in protest. The poor gas man, was still pleading his case. I had to explain to him what had just happened and why. I had made the accusations to gain permission to enter the house. It would take a while for him to sort it out and he was walking along the side of my car still professing his innocence as we drove off. Our uniformed guys were impressed with the ploy and thankful for our help.

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