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

catch (someone) red-handed, to

To apprehend in the act of committing a crime. The term, which alludes to the presence of blood on the hands of a murderer, originally referred only to that crime. Later it was extended to mean the same as “to catch in the act,” an English translation of the Latin in flagrante delicto, taken from the Roman code and long used in law. “I did but tie one fellow, who was taken red-handed,” wrote Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe (1819).
See also: catch, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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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.