Encounters with foreign police, ministry men and customs

I’m sure there is a wealth of stories out there of encounters with representatives of the law in other countries, I know I have a few, some of which I came out on top and others where the law won. Probably the principal one where I got the better of the police was in Basque country in 1993 where the Redcaps as the Basque police are known are notoriously hard on truck drivers and few get off without being fined. However at the time I was driving for the M O D attached to the US Air Force with a US ID Card and military travel orders which were basically a licence to do what you wanted in the truck which was a uk registered F12 on hire to the Air Force coupled to an empty American military registered tri axle lowloader trailer. I was pulled into a layby for a tacho check and the copper started by walking round the truck, when he got to the back of the trailer he noted the red brake/indicators which are standard on american trailers instead of our amber single indicators which were flashing as I had the hazards switched on and said problema, tres mille pesetas, then he saw the trailer no plate was totally different to the tractor and said grande problema, cinco mille pesetas, then he asked for the tacho disc which was one that had been left in the head so as not to damage the needle, consequently the disc face was black, grande, grande problema he said and the peseta signs started rolling round in his eyes upon which I produced my travel orders which include a paragraph in Spanish which loosely translates to say ‘‘To all law enforcement personnel, please render the bearer of this document all possible assistance in carrying out his duties’’, after pointing this out to him he stomped off to show his mate who shrugged his shoulders so he came back and threw the papers back at me and told me to go. This document proved invaluble on several occasions and was like a get out of jail free card.

Send me a photocopy please :laughing:

If you want to read all about my many encounters with foreign police and customs men,you’ll have to get my book when it’s finished!.

Basque Police could be a right nightmare at times, remember getting stopped at a Piage near Vitoria, I of course was on a mission running bent, so the fuse on my f10 was pulled , the Basque officer just started to walk up too my truck, a Guarda civil officer said something to him and he walked over to a different truck, I thankfully placed 5000 peseta note in my passport( coffee money) and was on my way soonest, must say my arse was twitching a bit. The French CRS Police are a direct descendent of the Waffen SS, I actually saw a Crs Copper wipe a French truck drivers mirrors with a white glove and fine him for having dirty mirrors, I thought a would be publicly flogged when they totted up for the crap I had done, but I was told your documents are fine enjoy your journey, a quick finger to the cap and was out of there. I was told by other drivers that when a French copper looks at your tachos they just look for 3 hrs driving max with a break , fortunately that’s what I had done. :smiley:

This is a secret video I filmed whilst getting a ticket for following to closely behind the truck in front. The Kentucky police laser operation had been tipped off by on-coming truckers on the CB; so everybody had slowed down and it had caused bunching. Just what the cops were looking for. It was only afterwards that I noticed the officer going for his mace as we were arguing. facebook.com/chrisarbon/med … 283&type=2

I was, and still am, very proud of the fact that, in a stop by Police in Bulgaria, Pat Searle and I were described by the Policeman as 'Vagabond Chauffeurs.


If you want to read all about my many encounters with foreign police and customs men,you’ll have to get my book when it’s finished!.

Ditto; by the way do you have a publishing date yet ■■? I was hoping for mid July for my first one but life got in the way yet again so may be a month or so yet…



If you want to read all about my many encounters with foreign police and customs men,you’ll have to get my book when it’s finished!.

Ditto; by the way do you have a publishing date yet ■■? I was hoping for mid July for my first one but life got in the way yet again so may be a month or so yet…


Know the feeling…

I got stopped in Bulgaria with my then girlfriend in the cab ( now my wife ) ( it was forbidden back then for a Bulgarian to travel in a foreign vehicle ) so this flash ■■■■■■■ decided he was gonna make a few quid, so he started talking to my missus, then i saw tears running down her cheek, that was it, i was out of the truck, grabbed him by the throat, she was screaming at me to stop, but i wanted to kill him, i eventually olet him go and asked her what he had said, she said that he accused her of being a prostitute ( she actually was a school teacher) We were both in England and were running to tip an English load, we had pictures of us in the uk, and obviously she had a long term uk visa. Eventually, after showing him the pictures, he apologised, gave US coffee money, and let us on our way with no further action. She never really forgave me for jumping at him, as i could have been arrested, but i would do it again.

Coming back from a middle east trip, i was running through Germany, dodgy permit, tyres on their last legs, etc, etc, and as i approached a slip road, a German police car came out to join the motorway, and politely i flashed him to come out, only for him to put his follow me signs i was about 20ks from Venlo, anyway i duly followed him into the park platz, which happened to be full of BAG, the German VOSA, anyway the cop car sped out of the area, and i went and parked. I started looking in my mirrors, and they seemed very busy, with each of them having a driver inside the van, with a uniformed officer, my next step was to get out, and walk to the back of the trailer, there i proceeded to clean my Long Vehicle signs, my light lenses, and to have a look to see what was going on, at that moment, seeing as they were too busy to attend to me, i started up, a quick look i9n the mirror, and eased my foot off of the clutch, i couldnt make it obvious, with the noise of the twin straight through stacks, so gently eased her to the exit, where once on the highway, gave it some welly to the border, i was sweating, as we never seemed to have much money left, certainly not enough to pay big fines, or for repairs ( in my case 2 tyres ) not forgetting the dodgy john bull permit, ha ha but made it nonetheless. I was very lucky, cos its not often you get away with anything from the Germans.

Back to when I drove for the Yanks and getting away with it wIth the Germans this time was returning empty from Ramstein air base via Luxembourg through the border at Remich I was stopped by a portly policeman at the wide T junction before the windy road leading to the border. He opened the tacho and shook his head at the solid black circles Grosser Problem English he says Nix Problem says I and whip out my magic paper this time with German translation. He ponders this for a while and confers with his oppo while lots of other trucks pass by. He brings my magic paper back with a thank you English and good bye. After stopping at the Texaco on the hill in Lux a Dutch driver said ‘‘how much did that cost you Englishman’’, nothing I said I work for the US air force. I’m glad they stopped you not me he said because I started yesterday morning.

Another time on the way to Greece in my Transcon with a belly tank full of cherry plumbed open I had pulled into a layby to blow some into my running tank and have a cuppa down near Munich and was in full flow when a cop car came in and parked about 50 ft in front of me. I had to casually get out with my cuppa and lean across to turn the air flow off. After about 20 suspenseful minutes they left and I restowed the hose and airline before leaving.

Oh yes,done this too!
And several times at the German/ Austrian border I’ve seen them dipping fuel tanks looking for cherry and just got missed.

I used to do a weekend run for a Manston based airfreight haulier. LHR - St Ouen Paris - Zaventem - LHR. Load fri night at Heathrow, tip 8 am in Paris, 9 off then bimble up to Brussels Saturday evening before the truck ban reloading for Heathrow Sunday night.

It was a lovely summers weekend and the previous week I’d only just cleared France before the ban kicked in. Tipped Paris and though a nice cold beer in the Irish bar in Zaventem would go down well, so wound the clock on 12 hours, dropped another card in and off I trot…

Coming up to the border on the A2, I notice a guy with his lollypop out waving cars into the customs area. I pulled into the layby immediately before the customs post thinking ‘Oh crap’. sat there and watched him for 20 mins and noticed all the trucks were flying round the back of the customs point and straight back onto the motorway. Seemed he was only tugging cars, so off I pop.

As I pull round the back as trucks have to, he jumps in front of me with his lollipop. My bottom has now clammed up like a very tight thing.
I had a RHD P reg FH, so he jumps on the step (had the window open because it was hot) and I greet him in French. He asked for all my docs which I hand over (quite forgetting DHL had put a date and time on the signature on the CMR when I tipped), he then wants my vingnete which I give him, finally he asks ‘Disc?’ I popped the card out, looked at it, looked at him and told him it’s 12 hours out. With a total look of surprise I told him how the truck had been in for a service that week, the fitter took the batteries off and I must have reset the clock on the tacho wrong.
He looked at me, asked if I was a professional driver and said ‘you must check clock’ then proceeded to kindly show me how you set the clock on a Mk1 Volvo FH.
I drove off rather dumb-struck and still with a clammed up bottom. Needless to say, I had significantly more than one pint when I finally arrived at Brussels Airport!

I will say they are very keen down on the Austrian/German border I was returning empty from Linz and flying past goes a UK reg VW LT well in excess of 70. Anyway a few k’s down the road I get pulled by the Zoll who take me in to a rastplatz and have a look inside my empty van. They basically asked if i was carrying cigs as they get a lot of it coming through.

I get sent on my way and about 10 mins up the road in another rastplatz is the Silver LT back doors open and half unloaded. made me smile.

Back in the day when GBA and SMS used to run loads of vans on the phone job I was forever getting pulled by french customs near dunkirk because I was in a plain whiote sprinter.

I used to always flout the Sunday ban in France when I was pulling for Eurotrans from Cesena. My mate and I would sit in between a couple of their Italian reg’d trucks, then run in convoy down to the Frejus.
One weekend a Harry Vos wagon and drag thought he’d give it go and joined us in the rocking chair. I think he stood out a little too much as the French copper pulled in front of him and left the rest of us alone…

With the mention of Dunkirk I was waiting to catch the ferry on the way back from Greece and as we all know that is the HQ for the Douane so I’m sitting in my truck waiting to board when I saw some customs walk behind the trailer and not appear the other side so I ran to the back to find a female Douane pulling the Tir cord out of the door handle prior to opening it. Very upset when I pushed her away and started shouting at me whereby I was grabbed by another officer, and asked me what I was doing. I explained that the trailer was full of loose melons and that she would have been badly injured by the several tons that would have descended on her had she opened the door. He apologized and said she was a trainee and eager to impress, he then made her apologize to me and thanked me for stopping what would have been a nasty accident. Still wanted to lift up the curtain so he could see that there were melons on there.

I should probably try to write a book, but some pranks that stick in my mind were:

Going into Austria without a valid permit and waiting for one of our trucks coming the other way. We swapped papers and I went to the Zollamt. I had been spotted and they stopped my mate at the gate and put me under house arrest. We arranged to get a proper permit sent out by DHL and I was there two days. However they fed me with cheese sandwiches and the fine was less than the food in the restaurant.

Driving through Czech during a daytime ban and getting fined. I refused to pay and just pulled my curtains round, after half an hour the copper got fed up and told me to go. He gave me back my passport and I gave him a couple of cans of coke. They were worth more than the fine, but I felt I had won and I was able to continue my journey unhindered. I also found that two cans of coke or a packet of Marlborough was much cheaper than the fuel I wasted going “over the mountain”

Stopped for speeding with ADR near Dijon. Had the two wallets, one empty one hidden and told the plod I had no money. He took my V5 and CMR off me and told me he would be back for the money in the morning. The truck still ran without a V5 and I made a new CMR out and went back to the UK. I have had two different passports since then :smiling_imp:

In Calais when they climbed on the cab step to check your fuel amount, many drivers gave them 10 Francs in a passport. I had broken the glass on the fuel gauge and it was stuck near the bottom showing it quarter full. I think they were too busy to check the filler cap as they stopped every vehicle coming off the ferry

At Aachen when you had to do the Treibstoffe form. I always over declared the fuel and paid for 80/100 litres at the kasse. they were so surprised at my honesty they never ever dipped me at the exit, good job as I always filled the running tank and belly tank with Belgian red in Wingene at Noel Scherrens. Dover customs always sealed my tank open for me :stuck_out_tongue: something to do with the fact that I had altered the tap so it looked closed

I used to pay the tax on 300 litres of diesel at Suben, then put a 1 in front of it on the Laufzettel and exit the compound with 1300 litres duty ‘paid’ :laughing:

A trick I used quite regularly was to start speaking random phrases in the language of whatever country I was pulled in, things like daf ich meine jacke auf zien bitte, (sp) which means can I take my jacket off in German. I would say this repeatedly whilst grinning like an idiot and apart from a nicking for taking a liberty with diesel at Remich (I know, silly place to try) I got sent on my way 9 times out of 10 :sunglasses: