A man received a $175 ticket after he gave money to someone he thought was homeless.
“As I came up to the stop sign, I stopped and looked and I saw this homeless guy holding a sign,” 25-year-old Dane Rusk told CTV Regina. “I instantly felt sorry for him.”
The panhandler was actually an undercover police officer stationed outside of a Safeway grocery store in Regina, Saskatchewan.
The “homeless” man waved at Rusk when he drove up, ABC News reports.
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“I reached out – I had to undo my seat belt, hang over and drop the change on the curb,” Rusk told CTV Regina.
“Oh thanks,” the man told Rusk of the $3 he gave him, according to ABC News.
Rusk then put his seat belt back on and drove away.
A half block up the road, he was pulled over by an officer from the Regina Police Service.
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The officer cited Rusk for not wearing a seat belt when he gave the undercover cop posing as a homeless man money.
The Regina Police Service was operating a project that week that had officers in plain clothes observe unlawful driver behavior, Evan Bray, the inspector in charge of Traffic Enforcement, said.
“This is a very similar tactic to using an unmarked or ‘ghost’ police vehicle,” he said. “It’s amazing how behavior changes when people see a marked police car.”
Had Rusk read the sign the undercover officer was holding, then he may have avoided the ticket.
The sign read: “I'm not broke. I'm not hungry. Have a great day."
The undercover officer was also wearing his badge around his neck.
Rusk finds the situation to be crazy.
“I took off my seat belt to give money to a guy who I thought was homeless,” he said.
“The ticket’s $175 and the three dollars I gave to him – I’m out $178 all because I was trying to help out a homeless guy,” he told CTV Regina.
Rusk plans to contest the ticket in court.