Man says he wanted to buy tomatoes, not sex (wiki commons)

Vice cops who swooped on a prostitute and her punter in Dudley, West Midlands, were told by the couple that they were on their way to buy tomatoes.

PC Stacey Paterson, from Walsall Police, said in all her years of service, she had never heard tomatoes being used as an excuse for solicitation.

The client, who has not been named, was arrested after officers spotted a known sex worker sitting in a car waiting for the driver to return from a nearby cashpoint.

They drove away but police pulled him over and arrested him on suspicion of solicitation.

In his interview, the 39-year-old denied the allegations, saying that he had withdrawn £20 from the cashpoint because he wanted to buy tomatoes and the prostitute was helping him.

Paterson said: "I've heard some excuses before but in the 10 years that I have been a police officer I have never heard a kerb crawler covering up his crimes by claiming to be buying tomatoes."

He was fined £400 and ordered to pay £655 in costs at Walsall Magistrates Court.

Serious repercussions

"My message to others is simple: kerb crawling isn't a victimless crime," added Paterson. "Sex workers are often very vulnerable people and if found guilty, you will have been found guilty of a sexual offence.

"This will have serious repercussions for your family life, current job and your eligibility for any job you try and secure in the future. It may also impact on child custody battles should you divorce."

In June a man from Birmingham was issued with a police warning for reporting a prostitute for being ugly.