Talk about your curb appeal.
Matt Pitoscia, 23, set a quickly conceived trap that cast police officers as co-conspirators pulling over his longtime girlfriend on an empty stretch of road in Cottage Grove.
The trap worked.
When 23-year-old Katie Borner got out of her car Saturday afternoon along 80th Street near Keats Avenue, expecting to be handed a speeding ticket, her Park High School sweetheart popped up instead and handed her an engagement ring.
"He said he had a flat tire on the side of the road and needed a ride," said Borner, explaining the fib that set the scheme in motion.
Borner dashed from her parents' home in Hastings, where she lives, to rescue her stranded boyfriend only to see those dreaded flashing lights and hear a siren. Busted, she thought. Borner pulled over, ready to 'fess up that she had been speeding.
Almost immediately, a second squad car appeared, and then a third.
"They came up on me so fast," Borner said. "I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm driving way too fast right now.' They just kept coming."
Officer Clare Boyle approached Borner's car on the driver's side. Officer Gena Kroshus came up on the passenger side, while a third officer hung back.
Borner said Boyle seemed pretty pleasant, looking at her driver's license and observing a change in hair color. Kroshus seemed preoccupied with her cellphone.
"This is weird," Borner recalled. "I'm getting a ticket, and they should be getting mean to me."
Kroshus said Boyle played her part pretty well, questioning the photo on Borner's driver's license, stalling to give Pitoscia time to arrive.
A glance in her passenger-side mirror gave Borner her first hint that something was up.
" 'Why is my boyfriend ducking behind the car?' " she remembered saying, spying him doing a deep-knee waddle to avoid detection.
Boyle directed Borner to step out of the car, and Pitoscia appeared on the shoulder. He dropped to one knee, took her hand and proposed with a boxed ring stretched out toward her.
Borner teared up before Pitoscia could even get the words out.
Kroshus liked having a chance "to do something positive and give police a positive image."
"We were tied up for maybe a couple of minutes," she assured the residents of Cottage Grove. "We were still available for emergencies."
Pitoscia said the ruse was no more than three hours in the making. Around noon, he saw a police squad car parked near a fire station. He stopped and asked Boyle whether she could pull over his girlfriend so he could propose to her. Boyle got the OK and brought along backup.
"I thought it would be a funny idea," Pitoscia said, adding that he had no doubt what Borner's answer would be. "She's been asking me to propose for two years."
Pitoscia, who works in the field for Xcel Energy, and Borner, a dental hygienist, are planning their wedding for Aug. 6, 2016.
On that special day, she'll have a ring on her finger but no speeding ticket from Boyle on her record.
"I did not give her a ticket," Boyle said. "I gave her a pass."