-- A Canadian man who thought he was giving a charitable donation to a homeless man was slapped with a $175 ticket when the panhandler turned out to be an undercover police officer.
Dane Rusk, 25, had just left a Safeway grocery store in Regina, Saskatchewan, Wednesday morning when he spotted what looked like a homeless person holding up a cardboard sign.
"I instantly felt sorry for him," Rusk told ABC News.
Rusk then drove up to the man, who waved at him, and reached his hand out of the car window after unbuckling his seat belt.
Rusk dropped $3 on the sidewalk, and the man replied, "Oh, thanks," according to Rusk. He then put his seat belt back on as he rolled into first gear and drove away, Rusk said.
About half a block up the road, a police officer from the Regina Police Service pulled Rusk over and slapped him with a $175 ticket for not wearing a seat belt, although he was wearing one at the time, Rusk said. That's when Rusk was informed that the homeless man was actually an undercover cop.
The department was running a project this week involving officers dressed in plain clothes in order to observe unlawful driver behavior, said Evan Bray, inspector in charge of Traffic Enforcement for the Regina Police Service.
"This is a very similar tactic to using an unmarked or 'ghost' police vehicle," Bray said. "It’s amazing how behavior changes when people see a marked police car."
The officer Rusk encountered was wearing his badge around his neck and holding a sign that said, "I'm not broke. I'm not hungry. Have a great day!" Rusk said he did not read the sign before throwing money out the window.
Regina Police confirmed that Rusk was issued a ticket but said an officer would not have written a ticket to a person who had simply removed his or her seat belt to take out change. Some drivers took photos of the dressed officer but those individuals did not receive tickets for a cellphone violation, Bray said.
"I took off my seat belt to give money to a guy who I thought was homeless," Rusk said, calling the situation "crazy."
Rusk said he plans to contest the ticket in court.