catch (one) red-handed

(redirected from caught them red-handed)

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 ?
He said that teams had caught them red-handed making fake carbonated drinks of different brands with artificial flavours, hazardous chemicals and contaminated water.
He said teams caught them red-handed, making fake carbonated drinks of different brands with artificial flavours, hazardous chemicals and contaminated water.
We have caught them red-handed and have brought them to the police.
They were put under close surveillance and CID officers caught them red-handed trying to make off with a battery from a truck.
Sharjah Police's Criminal Investigation Department was tipped off about the illegal activity and a police team raided their restaurant and caught them red-handed while they were transferring alchol from the refrigerator to the car.
A special team of ROP had caught them red-handed with a gun in November, 2013 and they were later charged with firing at people.
They allegedly attempted to steal a Toyota car, but were arrested when officers caught them red-handed after the passer-by called the police, according to court documents.
Wayne O'Brien and an accomplice were armed with a crowbar and grappled with two policemen who caught them red-handed.
The police, in the mean time, arrive pretending to have caught them red-handed and demand money using threats and intimidation tactics.
But police tailed the gang and caught them red-handed when the drugs were moved to a haulage warehouse in Essex.
Both have been fined by Gateshead magistrates after council neighbourhood wardens caught them red-handed.
"We have sent out extra patrols to catch whoever is doing this," said police spokesman Reiner Kuechler, "but, frankly, we don't know what we would do if we caught them red-handed."
A garda source said: "We like to call it good policing, but really the detective was passing at the time and caught them red-handed.
POACHERS in Co Cork tried to run down a fisheries officer after he caught them red-handed.
He said that the teams had caught them red-handed making fake carbonated drinks of different brands with artificial flavours, hazardous chemicals and contaminated water.