Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1997]
It worked ... but only after a fashion. Those breezing through from someplace else slowed down as soon as they saw the squad car lying in wait, but the locals weren't taken in by it at all. Then some of the local good ol' boys took to shooting up the car and its dummy as they drove by. Pretty soon the squad car was a wreck.
One day a carload of lads spotted a bright, shiny new squad car parked where the bullet-riddled one had been. They aimed their shotguns and blasted away ... only to see a real policeman slump forward onto the steering wheel, blood gushing from his wounds. Seems the local council had finally found the money to keep a patrolman assigned there.
Origins: We've been hearing this story since 1994, and it could well be older than that. In another version of the basic tale, the local gendarmes have taken to stationing a riderless police motorcycle behind a billboard so the front half of the vehicle juts out where motorists can see it. One day a hooligan takes a potshot at the billboard, and it happens to be the one day a real motorcycle cop is back there seated on the bike.
Urban legends are often cautionary tales meant to inspire a set of behaviors by
Sometimes the "mannequin in a police car" story comes to the following humorous conclusion:
Newport News Virginia tried that [using a mannequin sitting in a police car for traffic control] a few years back at the intersections of Jefferson and Oyster Point because of people running red light and just not obeying traffic laws in general. Well one evening the person that came to move the vehicle into a different spot for the next day forgot to lock the car back up before leaving. The next morning the mannequin had been positioned onto of the hood of the cop car, a cigarette placed in one and hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
This legend builds upon the common "cops versus speeders" theme (which provides the justification for the local lads to shoot at the parked car). Another tale that puts that theme to use is also often presented as a true story, although there's no reason for believing it to be anything but a joke:
A policeman had a perfect spot to watch for speeders, but was not getting many. Then, he discovered the problem; a
Moral of the story: That which works in the realm of folklore doesn't always translate so well to the real world.
Barbara "driving tips" Mikkelson
Last updated: 6 August 2013
Payne, Stewart. "Pensioner Banned Over Speed Trap Alert." The [London] Daily Telegraph. 3 June 2004 (p. 8). NBC 10 [Philadelphia]. "Man Fires at Police Mannequin in Patrol Car." 21 June 2013.