In the movie, Blade Runner 2049, when Officer K goes to his apartment, ...

somebody spray painted an insult reference to him being a Blade Runner. I don't remember the exact words, but I am pretty sure one of the words was "SKINNER", which is a reference to "skinjob", which is insult for replicants.

Later when he goes ...

to get some dinner at an outdoor cafe, three women from a local brothel visit his table. One of the women says to the other two in a foreign (or coded?) language that he is a Blade Runner. She doesn't want to be around him. Two of the women leave, but Mariette stays with him.

How did they know he was a Blade Runner?

Blade Runners are undercover cops. They don't advertise their duties. Nobody is supposed to recognize them on the streets.

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    I'm not clear how you deduce from calling them "skinner" or "skinjob" in the first spoiler block that they knew he was a Blade Runner. Weren't they just referring to him being a replicant? As to the second incident, you ever seen a criminal "smell a cop from a mile distance" in about every crime movie ever? ;-) – TARS Oct 10 '17 at 13:28
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    Ahh but one of the replicant hookers go "I know him, he's a blade runner" so it goes a bit further than just criminal intuition – Naib Oct 10 '17 at 23:09
  • @TARS The whole thing about criminals "smelling a cop from a mile away" is just movie plot-bogus. I doubt that many criminals are so gifted in real life. If you want to use a trope to explain this, that's fine as an out-of-universe explanation, but it smells of bad scriptwriting to depend on tropes. – RichS Oct 11 '17 at 5:03
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    @LincolnMan Um, you might be taking that a little too literal maybe. ;-) – TARS Oct 14 '17 at 6:20
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    Just as background, the language was foreign (Finnish) and was spoken by an actress who is herself a Finn. I imagine the director allowing the line to be delivered in Finnish to further enhance the feeling of a cosmopolitan melting pot that LA has become in the BR universe. – Travelling Man Oct 16 '17 at 20:32

One of the Doxies recognises him

As pointed out by Thunderforge, In the market square when K is having his noodles, one of the three Doxies recognises K and warns the others:

The THREE DOXIES cross the market to approach K. Flank him
at his table, studying the PHOTOS: The FARM. The BONES.
Hello hello A-Boy... You alone ?
Leave him, he is a fucking Blade
Runner... I’ve seen him.
This guy is
dangerous. You coming?

It’s ok... I’m good.
-Final Shooting Script (undated), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Fancher, H. and Green, M.

As for how he was recognised as a Replicant: they are now easier to tell apart

Luv tells K that in the past, Replicants were not so easy to spot as they are now. Speaking of Rachael and the Voight-Kampf test in the 'memory vault':

The IMAGE BREAKS OFF. REPEATS again in a LOOP. The eye
BLINKS, the voices come. A ghost fragment of an indelible
moment. Too brief. IT PLAYS OVER AND OVER AGAIN as --
LUV (cont’d)
It was unclear what she was, at least to
someone. This was a test. We were
difficult to spot then

Now have a look at the way that Luv is described:

LUV. Polite, efficient. Perfect. Moral as a tornado and
about as safe. Beautiful, yes. The way a sword can be if
it’s safely behind glass.
Luv comes toward K. Hands tucked. Suit sensible. Every
aspect immaculate. The flawless representative.
LUV (cont’d)
Another prodigal serial number returns.
A 30 year old open case finally closed is
a curiosity and relief. Thank you,
Officer. I’m here for Mr. Wallace.
(hand out)
I’m Luv.
He named you. You must be special.
He steals a once over, understanding. She gives an
unembarrassed nod of confession.

Luv is 'perfect' in every sense of the word and K pegs her immediately.

Now note how a 'normal' human is described:

A pug COP, NANDEZ, enjoys the show. A bigot with a mouth
certain whatever comes out of it is funny. Recognizable as
human as all humans stuck on Earth seem to be.


[all emphases mine]

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  • It should be noted that Luv is a major character, while Nandez is not. This might be the reason for the differences in the lengths of their descriptions. – Rogue Jedi Feb 1 '18 at 11:39
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    @RogueJedi It's not the length of the description, it's that Nandez is specifically noted as 'easy to spot for a human' whereas Luv is described as 'noticeably perfect'... – Möoz Feb 2 '18 at 0:20

I found the answer to this in a video showing several Blade Runner 2049 scenes.

Officer K buys a noodle lunch at a cafe near a brothel.

Brothel Manager with large sunglasses and wearing a full length body coat with hood to hide her identity (who might also be Freysa Sadeghpour, the leader of the Replicant Freedom Movement) points to Officer K: * The one who killed Sapper. Find out what he knows.*

DOXIE #3 (in FINNISH, UNTRANSLATED) Leave him, he is a fucking Blade Runner... I’ve seen him. This guy is dangerous. You coming?

If that indeed was Freysa Sadeghpour, she knew K was a Blade Runner because she must have seen images of who killed Sapper Morton. We know Sapper was in contact with the Replicant Freedom Movement because of comments made by Freysa to Officer K later in the movie. Sapper probably had hidden cameras at his farm so that if he was caught, the Replicant Freedom Movement would know who found him.

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  • The handler indeed was Freysa, but she never mentions that K is a Blade Runner to the Doxies, it is inferred. The part about the Finnish one recognising K is the most pertinent. – Möoz Feb 18 '18 at 21:02
  • @Möoz I bet Freya guessed K was a Blade Runner because few others would go after Sapper and steal his eyeball. That and the fact that a police investigation unit came to the place later that same day just to dig up the bone box. When she sees all that, she probably thinks that Sapper's killer is most likely a Blade Runner. Odd for the same Blade Runner to show up at a cafe just outside her brothel later that same night. – RichS Feb 19 '18 at 1:40
  • The fact that she was Freysa was also mentioned in an answer here. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/173087/… – RichS Feb 19 '18 at 1:51
  • @Möoz Maybe the Doxie said "Blade Runner" as a code word to the other two. – LincolnMan Feb 21 '18 at 8:40
  • All three of the spy prostitutes must have known the one in green was a Blade Runner beforehand. Notice how the prostitute with the afro initially, cautiously backed off before approaching Agent K. Then the blonde-haired prostitute identified K, but the purpose for that may have become the excuse for the blonde and the afro to leave, which would allow Mariette to become more intimate. – noobninja Aug 25 '19 at 2:29

One of the pleasure model replicants in the scene says

"I know him, he's a Blade Runner"

I interpret "I know him" to mean that she has prior knowledge of who K is. Most likely, she knows him by reputation, or perhaps has even seen him apprehending a rogue replicant. This is just like how if someone asked me about Thomas Edison, I might say "I know him, he's an inventor."

There is no novelization for Blade Runner 2049 and the script is not currently available, so I don't think we'll get any better information.

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15 seconds before the three approach K, Frey’s JUST told the three that K killed Sapper. Who else would kill Sapper besides a Blade Runner?

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! This is already stated in RichS's answer, but in a less acerbic way. – F1Krazy Feb 28 at 7:38

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