I was walking along the river in Warsaw in the afternoon and was approached by two men who claimed to be police. They showed me ID, but I have no idea what Polish policja ID is supposed to look like, much less how to tell if it was fake. They said they were checking for illegal substances.

I was suspicious because they weren't wearing uniforms and was kind of expecting them to rob me. In hindsight, I guess I should have asked if we could do this somewhere official, but nerves. Anyway, they asked for my ID, and one guy searched my pockets while the other guy was apparently copying down info from my ID. Nothing obviously bad happened, though whoever it was has my name/address/birthday/etc.

So, are plainclothes illegal substance 'stop-and-frisk' patrols a thing in Warsaw? Or were these guys more likely data-mining or otherwise planning to rob me?

  • Never heard of it in Poland, but I don't know much about policing laws in Poland. In UK you can definitely be stopped and searched by plainclothes police (there are laws governing this), provided they have grounds to search you.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 22:32
  • I have no clue whether it's legit or not, but I suggest calling all your credit card providers and ask them to put a temporary block on your cards. If that's what the clowns were after, they'll find out quickly that they can't use the numbers and they'll forget them. You can have the block removed later.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 22:40
  • You'd rather demand from the to take you to Police Office, because they can be whoever.
    – Suncatcher
    Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 10:46
  • Do the card lock thing just "incase" and request a new one, and, just incase, notify to the nearest police station that this happened, so there's legal constance that you had reported your data "stolen". sort of " i was approached by two men, i didn't knew if they were policemen or not..." . If someone commits a crime using your name, you'll have some backup plan and documents to prove you might not be that person. Anyway, that's pretty common in most of europe, plain-clothed patrols are common everywhere i've traveled.
    – CptEric
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 8:40
  • Where, please, in the world do criminal police where uniforms? All cases I know, they will always show a badge or ID in some form before questioning you. Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 22:18

3 Answers 3


There are reports of much of what you describe as being a scam. FromWorld Nomads:

But not even A grade uniform recognition skills will help you with one con; thieves claiming to be plain-clothed policemen come to assist you. The "policemen" then ask to see your ID and credit cards and to be given PIN numbers. The fake police officer will then look through your wallet, giving it back to you saying everything is fine. He will be long gone by the time you realize some of your money is missing or credit cards are gone. No genuine law enforcement officer will ask you for your PIN.


Yes, in Poland police can and do patrol in plain clothes, there will always be 2 of them, it can also be police and military, or police and local deputy (town guard).

Polish police can stop and frisk anyone, under any suspicion, tho they have to say what was it, and if you are not aggressive or if it would endanger them they can not show the badge (until proper car unit arrives). If you act normal they will show you the cross (badge) and police ID. (see below) They will be armed. Routine check consist of noting your Name, Occupation,Birth date and Birthplace checking of your ID, and if needed may contain asking what are you doing and why. If you feel unsure if they are indeed officers of police you can say that you want to confirm if they are ones and call the police to prove it. (they will either check if their id's match or send normal patrol to you)

The police will never keep your ID, they will never ask you for money, they will never take your passport. You can deny having them but it will result in longer questions - Names of parents and/or your ID number if you have one.

Refusal of cooperation is a minor offence so if you act like dick you may get a ticket. All tickets in Poland are paid thru banks. Nothing goes straight to policeman.

List of things police will stop you for:

Jaywalking - anywhere there is not a zebra. but on minor streets you can cross at the end of it (if there is not a zebra within 100m). Turning right on red (if there is no green arrow) - that's for americans Crossing on Red - Even if there are no cars. Being laud. Being drunk - that can also get you arrested. Driving drunk - that will get you arrested. Drinking in public outside the bars. Drinking/Smoking underage. Being alone underage. Smoking near random people. Riding public transport without ticket. Littering. Looking Lost.

If you get checked without problems don't fear to ask them for directions or nice restaurant or anything.

Badge and Id of Polish police 2020


While this may have been a scam and I'd follow Mark Mayo's answer to similar question about Spain, seems that in some cases Polish police are allowed to be on service while not wearing a uniform.

To quote Police Act (source in Polish):

Policjant w czasie służby jest obowiązany do noszenia przepisowego munduru i wyposażenia. Komendant Główny Policji określa przypadki, w których policjant w czasie wykonywania obowiązków służbowych nie ma obowiązku noszenia munduru. (...) Przy wykonywaniu innych czynności administracyjno-porządkowych nie umundurowany policjant obowiązany jest na żądanie obywatela okazać legitymację służbową lub znak identyfikacyjny (...).

Which translates to

Police officer on service is obliged to wear uniform and equipment. Chief Commander of the Police defines cases when policeman performing his duties is not obliged to wear a uniform (...) While performing other administrative and law enforcement duties, policeman is obliged to show his badge or other kind of identification (...)

I've seen patrols like this and seems that looking for drugs may be one of the duties defined by the Chief Commander where they aren't obliged to wear uniforms, although I don't have any official source for that.

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