An off-duty officer was in his apartment when he heard his front door knob rattle. He looked into the hallway through the door’s peephole and observed “two men tiptoeing out of the alcove toward the stairway.” Although he had lived in the apartment for approximately 12 years, he did not recognize either person. After calling the police and arming himself, the officer again looked through the peephole and saw both men tiptoeing. Believing that the two men were attempting to commit burglary, the officer left his apartment, slamming the door as he went into the hallway. Upon hearing the door slam, the men began to run down the stairs. The officer chased them. He caught the defendant, who claimed to be visiting a girlfriend. The officer then frisked the defendant and discovered a hard object in his pocket. Believing the object may be a knife he retrieved it. It was an envelope containing burglar tools.
Whether the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant?
Yes. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer had probable cause to make the arrest.
The officer heard strange noises outside his apartment that lead him to believe someone was trying to get inside. When he investigated, he observed two men engaged in stealth in the hallway. Although he had lived in the apartment for 12 years, he did not recognize either man. When he entered the hallway, the men fled. “Deliberately furtive actions and flight at the approach of strangers or law officers” are highly indicative of criminal intent. Considering these facts, by the time the officer seized the defendant fleeing down the stairway, he had probable cause to arrest him for attempted burglary.
392 U.S. 40, 88 S. Ct. 1889 (1968)