Police play doctor to test citizens' gullibility

A gang of thieves in Istanbul, Turkey have reportedly been dressing like doctors and distributing sedatives door to door, telling residents the medicine was related to a test for high blood pressure. Once the victims dosed, the thieves would rob them. As part of the police investigation, officers attempted the same trick but used placebos. Apparently 86 out of 100 people who answered the door took the pill right away. Police then attempted to explain why that was a bad idea. From Reuters:
 Images Elope Doctor-Costume-Kit Turkish police in other provinces have also used novel methods to test citizens' gullibility.

Officers in Adana in southern Turkey last week called at houses, announcing through the intercom: "I am a burglar, please open the door." Police said they were stunned at the number of people who opened the door, the Radikal daily newspaper reported.

"Police dress up as doctors to test citizens"


  1. Wouldn’t the fact that they opened their doors tend to demonstrate that they weren’t so gullible as to believe that the a**hole on the street shouting ‘I am a burglar’ through a megaphone was telling the truth?

  2. …those people actually get to live on their own and even raise children?

    This (the pill swallowing) probably comes down to acceptance of authority (for a primer see the Milgram experiment) but WHOA!

  3. Just after WWII a guy claiming to be a public health official rolled into a bank in Japan and distributed some new flu medicine to the staff. They were all dead in a few minutes and he was then free to loot the bank for a hour or so until opening time.

  4. This reminds me of the computer specialists who teach people about what to look for in phishing websites by first tricking the subjects with a typical phishing method, then showing them what they missed and how to avoid falling for similar scams in the future. If I recall correctly (sorry I can’t remember the link), these people had much better long term recollection of how to be safe than those who were simply shown what to watch for without first being tricked.

    I also admit that this story has the feel of an urban legend/media fear-mongering. If it truly is real, I hope the police have good luck catching the guys and educating the public.

  5. CITIZENS OF TURKEY: I am the President of Science. Please pile all of your gold and money in the streets so I can put it into this Duplicating Van, and then we’ll all be rich.

  6. The gullibility is unsurprising, but the canny response of the Turkish police is. We need some of that here.

  7. My experience in Turkey was that the people are generally very honest. Maybe they are too quick to be accomodating.

  8. I suspect the intercom bit is more of an indication of poor quality intercoms.

    My guess is the police said “I am a burglar, please open the door”, and a lot of people heard “bargle wargle wargle, crackle fuzz door”. So they cursed their stupid cheap building manager for never fixing the intercom, opened the door and went down to check who was there, like they always do.

    1. Did you know you can just buy lab coats?

      That was great. And it reminded me: I actually have a couple of them in the back of my closet. We used them in the “mad scientist” portion of the Halloween haunt I used to run.

      Think maybe I’ll start wearing one to work, to enhance my sorely-damaged credibility.

  9. Meanwhile, in different part of Istanbul a different kind of predator roams the street…

    [ dissolve to Woman #2 in her apartment ]

    [ Music: “Jaws Theme ]

    [ a knock at the door ]

    Woman #2: [ appoaches the door ] Yes?

    Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Mrs. Arlsbergerhh??

    Woman #2: Who?

    Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Mrs. Johnannesburrrr??

    Woman #2: Who is it?

    Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Flowers.

    Woman #2: Flowers? From whom?

    Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Plumber, ma’am..

    Woman #2: I don’t need a plumber. You’re that clever shark, aren’t you?

    Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] Candygram.

    Woman #2: Candygram, my foot! Get out of here before I call the proper authorities. You’re the shark, and you know it.

    Land Shark: [ muffled voice ] I’m only a dolphin, ma’am..

    Woman #2: A dolphin? Well.. okay..

    [ she opens the door, as the shark pulls her screaming into the hallway ]

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