catch (one) red-handed

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catch (one) red-handed

To see, and perhaps apprehend, someone as they are doing something (often something nefarious). The phrase might have originally referred to blood on a murderer's hands. The police caught the robbers red-handed as they ransacked another house. Timmy tried to get into the cookie jar again, but I caught him red-handed.
See also: catch

caught red-handed

Seen or apprehended in the act of doing something, especially something illegal or nefarious. He tried to deny that he had stolen the money, but he was caught red-handed by security cameras.
See also: caught
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

catch someone red-handed

 and catch someone flat-footed
to catch a person in the act of doing something wrong. (See also caught red-handed.) Tom was stealing the car when the police drove by and caught him red-handed. Mary tried to cash a forged check at the bank, and the teller caught her red-handed.
See also: catch
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

catch red-handed

Also, catch in the act. Apprehend someone in the course of wrongdoing, as in The boys were trying to steal a car and the police caught them red-handed, or He tried to cheat on the exam, but his teacher walked in and caught him in the act. The first term referred to blood on a murderer's hands and originally signified only that crime. Later it was extended to any offense. The variant ( catch in the act) is a translation of the Latin in flagrante delicto, part of the Roman code and long used in English law.
See also: catch
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

catch someone red-handed

COMMON If you catch someone red-handed, you see or find them while they are doing something illegal or wrong. The burglar was on the roof and was caught red-handed by the police. They all pleaded guilty to conspiring to import drugs after being caught red-handed by customs officers. Note: The reference here is to a guilty person whose hands are covered in blood.
See also: catch, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

catch somebody red-ˈhanded

find somebody while they are doing something wrong, committing a crime, etc: The thief was caught red-handed as she was emptying the till.This originally referred to catching a person with blood still on their hands after killing somebody.
See also: catch, somebody
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
FOUR dozy teenage burglars pretended to be asleep in bed when they realised police would catch them red-handed.
"They seem to work in teams since their activity is quite organized," he said, adding it's hard to catch them red-handed since they seem to have a connection through which they share patrol information.
Laurel, Kerry, Nicola and Diane - wondering where their other halves have got to - suddenly turn up and catch them red-handed.
In the concluding part of the case (which is also the last of the current series), they realise that if they're to bring the villains to justice, they'll have to catch them red-handed, putting their lives in danger in the process.
In the concluding part of the case, they realise that if they're to bring the villains to justice, they'll have to catch them red-handed, putting their lives in danger in the process.
"We wanted to catch them red-handed before they can destroy evidence," he added.
"This is a 100 per cent national operation, as no tip was received from a foreign source and our team members were the ones who reached the information and monitored the gang's activities to catch them red-handed," he said.
Do cameras catch them red-handed and result in more arrests and successful prosecutions?
He added: "The message to shopkeepers is that if they break the law, we will catch them red-handed."
Undercover officers were briefed to gain the confidence of the dealers in Hillfields, and to catch them red-handed when they sold them drugs.
Or you could do a night patrol with a torchlight and catch them red-handed!
Police investigations revealed the identities of two suspects, and police said they devised a plan to catch them red-handed.
People are fed up with drug-dealing and, if the police don't catch them red-handed, someone may just tip them off via Crimestoppers.
We want to warn criminals that just because we don't catch them red-handed doesn't mean they won't eventually get caught."