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10 Bizarre Events Involving Prosthetics and the Police

by Blake Lynch
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Most prosthetic wearers do not have things easy. The prosthesis journey is full of pain and an underlying necessity. While they might face additional challenges, prosthetic wearers are just like anyone else. This means that sometimes prosthetic wearers find themselves in entanglements with law enforcement. Consider the following strange tales involving the police and prosthetics.

Related: Top 10 Bizarre Ways People Smuggled Drugs

10 Beaten by His Own Leg

Photo Credit: G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

In 2013, a disabled man in South Carolina was enjoying his day when he was pushed from his moped and then beaten with his own prosthetic leg by an assailant who was later arrested for assault. The man’s leg appears to have come off when he hit the ground. A second person is reported to have held the victim down while the suspect assaulted him.

Police were called to the scene, but the victim was in too much pain to speak to them. The victim was then transported to Grand Strand Regional Hospital. As a result of the attack, the victim was left with a laceration above his right eye that necessitated stitches. Fortunately, the victim was able to identify the assaulter from a photo lineup. It remains uncertain what motivated the suspect to push the man off his moped.[1]

9 Using a Prosthetic Arm as a Weapon

Photo Credit: belushi / Shutterstock

Road rage can come at any moment for drivers. In 2016, a Missouri man who had lost his arm in a 2009 car crash ended up facing four felony charges after he experienced road rage in an accident that left one occupant in the other vehicle with broken legs and the other with lacerations. The event occurred when the prosthetic wearer got into a fight with another couple who almost struck his vehicle. This led the prosthetic wearer to drive his vehicle into the other man and pin him, keeping him from moving. The man’s wife then arrived in a separate vehicle and got out of her car to help her husband. When the fight escalated, the prosthetic wearer took off his arm and used it to assault the woman.

The police later charged the prosthetic wearer with counts related to first-degree assault, second-degree assault, leaving the scene of an accident, and armed criminal behavior. The man was placed in prison with a $150,000 bail.

Trouble continued to find the one-armed man. Soon after, the man was accused of striking a St. Louis police officer with his prosthetic. This led to the police taking the man’s arm and not immediately returning it. This dispute arose when police were called to a local car dealership following a dispute between the one-armed man and a dealership worker. When law enforcement tried to arrest the man for his previous felony, he took off his arm to defend himself. The police reported that they kept the prosthetic because it constituted a weapon.[2]

8 Drug-Smuggling in Butt Prosthetics

Photo Credit: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

In 2014, a Massachusetts woman was left to face drug-related charges after law enforcement discovered heroin and Oxycodone beneath a prosthetic butt enhancement that the woman claimed she wore because she had a flat butt. The arrest came after police performed a traffic stop and pills fell out of the woman’s pants while she was standing close to a police vehicle.

The woman later admitted that a one-ounce bag of marijuana found in her vehicle was hers, while a passenger in the vehicle was also arrested due to outstanding warrants. Police then discovered that the flat-butted woman had extensive criminal records, including charges related to illegal drugs.

While being booked following the arrest, police discovered that the woman’s underwear was hard to touch. The woman told the police that she had a flat butt, so she wore a prosthetic butt and another pair of underwear beneath it. When law enforcement asked the woman to take off her butt prosthetic, she grew upset. She then gave in, and law enforcement found a bulge in her underwear, which turned out to be two bags of Oxycodone pills and $350 of heroin.[3]

7 Drunk Driver Abandons Arm at Scene

Prosthetic arms are expensive and serve an invaluable purpose, but a man in Corpus Christi left his prosthetic arm behind when he fled the scene of a drunk driving crash in 2015. When police arrived at the scene, they found the man’s right prosthetic arm as well as a passenger who had incurred minor injuries.

The driver and his passenger were reported to have been traveling on State Highway 26 when the vehicle left the freeway, dropped to the street below the highway, and collided with a bridge pillar. The driver then escaped on foot. The intoxicated man was later arrested by law enforcement. [4]

6 The Computer Chip Pregnancy Bump

A thriving underground market for computer chips has erupted in China. This market arose in 2020 when a pandemic-fueled chip shortage occurred that impacted everything from cars to smartphones. As a result, a smuggled computer chip can yield a large payday.

Earlier in 2022, customs workers in China arrested a woman who attempted to utilize a pregnancy prosthetic to smuggle semiconductors into the country. Stopped at the Zhuhai/Macau border, the woman was discovered to have more than 200 processors as well as nine smartphones beneath her prosthetic. Law enforcement was initially tipped off that something was not as it appeared when the woman reported she was five or six months pregnant but had a belly large enough for a woman in her third trimester.[5]

5 Robber Takes Off with a Prosthetic Leg

Prosthetic legs range in value from $5,000 to $70,000. As a result, these items might be expected to fetch a pretty penny on the black market. So on an afternoon in 2021, an Oklahoma man armed with a large metal spike stole a prosthetic leg from a person during a robbery. The man also made off with the victim’s backpack after asking about the value of the items.

The man was later arrested on charges of armed robbery. When law enforcement caught up with the man, the man had strapped the prosthetic leg to his head. The prosthetic leg was then removed and given back to the victim while the thief was booked into jail.

This is not the only time a prosthetic leg has been stolen, though. In 2022, Georgia police were called to a home on a charge of theft. A man reported that he was working on his home’s back door when he set his prosthetic leg by the door. The man left the door for a minute, and when he returned, the leg was no longer there. The perpetrator of this prosthetic theft appears to have never been apprehended.[6]

4 Ankle Monitor on a Fake Leg

Photo Credit: Gagarin Iurii / Shutterstock

A man in Washington, D.C., was arrested on a firearm charge in 2016 and placed on house arrest pending trial. When the ankle bracelet was being fitted, the tracking device was placed over the man’s sock rather than skin which is a violation of protocol regarding ankle tracking monitors. The worker placing the bracelet also did not realize the man had a prosthetic leg. As a result, the man later took his leg off, replaced it with a second prosthetic leg he had, and was able to leave the house.

The man then went to an area he was instructed to stay away from and ended up tragically shooting and killing a woman. The man’s motive behind the murder remains uncertain. At the time the man left to commit the murder, he told his mother that he was going to hand out religious pamphlets. Fortunately, a witness identified the man as a suspect. He was then charged with second-degree murder.[7]

3 The Prosthetic Mask Robber

Disguises and fake IDs: How the feds cracked an elaborate casino scheme

In 2020, a Michigan man stole over $100,000 from people who went to casinos in both Michigan and Kansas. The man utilized a prosthetic mask to hide his identity as well as fake identification and personal information that was stolen online. To avoid suspicion, the man wore a prosthetic mask that made him look like an old man. The man then targeted victims by obtaining their personal details and used the false identification to make withdrawals from these victims’ bank accounts at casino kiosks.

Police charged the man with wire fraud, identity theft, and fraud in connection with the access devices. Police first started investigating the crime when casino security identified 10 individuals who had lost almost $100,000 in total in a month in 2019. A suspect was then located on surveillance footage. Casino workers noticed that the man, who was dressed as an elderly individual in a prosthetic mask, glasses, and a walker withdrew tens of thousands of dollars from kiosks. When casino workers questioned the man, he left to go to the bathroom and emerged with a large bump in his pants, which casino workers think was the prosthetic mask.[8]

2 Drug Smuggling with a Prosthetic Leg

Florida man accused of smuggling drugs into jail inside his prosthetic leg

In 2021, a Florida man tried to sneak cocaine and opioids into prison in 2021 through his prosthetic leg. The man was initially arrested when Florida police pulled over the vehicle he was riding in for a traffic stop. After a fight with the police, it was revealed that the man was sitting on a pipe used to smoke cocaine. As a result of this and the presence of cocaine, the man was placed under arrest.

After being arrested, the man was asked by law enforcement if his artificial limb contained anything illegal. The man claimed there was nothing in his leg even though the police told him this could lead to additional charges. A large search of the man’s leg revealed both Xanax and Fentanyl. The man was left to face three felonies and one misdemeanor charge.[9]

1 The Prosthetic Hair Bandit

Women Caught With Tubes of Cocaine in Hair Extensions: Cops

Illinois law enforcement went to a scene in 2002 to meet a man and his son who lived at the address. It was then that the son told the police that he had over 100 pieces of stolen prosthetic hair (ponytails) in his bedroom, as well as loose hair to make another 60 ponytails. The police then faxed a copy of a warrant to search the residence to the local’s sheriff’s office. This request was approved.

The ponytail bandit was subsequently arrested. According to law enforcement, the man stole the ponytails by calling up local salons and falsely representing a charity organization that supports cancer survivors and creates high-quality hair prosthetics for children who lose their hair due to medical conditions. The man, who is reported to have checked in weekly with hair salons, was jailed on a $10,000 bail.

But this isn’t the only case involving fake hair. Two Columbia women were caught at the airport smuggling cocaine in their hair extensions. When the women went through the scanners, anomalies appeared on the screen, and when their hair was inspected, the agents found vials of cocaine stashed within the hair.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen