YouTube pranksters trick LAPD officers in Venice Beach

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Friday, January 16, 2015
YouTube pranksters trick LAPD officers in Venice Beach
Some YouTube pranksters may be in trouble after tricking LAPD officers in Venice Beach into thinking they were selling cocaine when they were really selling Coca-Cola.

LOS ANGELES -- Some YouTube pranksters may be in trouble after tricking LAPD officers in Venice Beach.

"I can't do this. We have a bunch of coke in the back," one guy says in the video when police question them.

On the surface, it appears to be four guys trying to push cocaine. But in reality, it's four guys trying to push their YouTube channel.

"The whole idea was to sell Coke on the streets and we have cameras around the car and filming outside, and the reaction was to get a good laugh out of it," said YouTube prankster Niko Martinovic.

Martinovic and his three cohorts create prank videos. Shortly after they started rolling in Venice, LAPD officers moved in.

"I had a heart attack because I didn't know how they would initially react, especially Venice, because they have a lot of problems up there, so we just kinda went with it," Martinovic said.

And that is why LAPD officials are so upset. The four men continued the prank after officers were tipped off about possible drug dealers.

"When they're delayed by somebody who's playing a joke, then it's the community out there that's really suffering," said Los Angeles police Commander Andrew Smith.

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LAPD says not only are these pranks a drain on critical resources, but they're also very dangerous, much like those hoaxes known as swatting.

Swatting is when someone calls in a false report of a murder or hostage situation, sending swarms of SWAT officers to the home of an unsuspecting person.

The Venice prank, Smith says, is not much different.

"Any officer out there is thinking, "I got four guys in a possible felony situation here,' and there's always the potential for something bad to happen," Smith said.

Fortunately, it didn't. The Coke was actually Coca-Cola, and the pranksters were uncuffed and released.

The Los Angeles Police Department is looking into possible charges. Meanwhile, the Canadian pranksters say they did nothing illegal and are watching hundreds of thousands of views on their YouTube channel roll in.