Fake cops in Detroit are reportedly pulling over drivers and robbing them. And, in at least one known case, the vehicle used by the police impersonators was a Crown Victoria — a make that is often favored by real law enforcement.
According to My Fox Detroit, there were at least two recent robberies by fake cops. In one case, men wearing bulletproof vests and police badges reportedly held up drivers pumping gas and even pistol-whipped them to get their cash and cell phones.
In a second case, three men in the unmarked Crown Victoria pulled over a driver and demanded a search — giving them the opportunity to steal his wallet and CDs.
The Detroit police have reminded folks in a statement that you don’t have to pull over for unmarked cars. Real highway patrol officers will have fully marked official vehicles — not some random white Crown Vic with a plug-in strobe light on top.
The scam is apparently new to Detroit, but it’s so old it has whiskers in the south. Long before the cell phone days, I was taught that a woman driving alone shouldn’t pull over for an unmarked car. Anybody can buy bubblegum lights.
Back then, we’d get the advice to drive to the nearest police station if an unmarked car tried to pull us over. In practice, I would just go to the nearest well-lit place where I saw plenty of people around, like a 24 hour truck stop. The evildoer never followed.
These days you can probably just call the police and ask them if it’s a real unit behind you.
Either way, you folks in Detroit need to catch up.
Here’s a 2009 video report on a police impersonator in the Memphis area. As you’ll see, he had a very well-equipped Crown Victoria complete with strobe lights that he was using to pull over drivers near Memphis. He appeared to be set up with everything you’d need to do a fake DUI traffic stop:
Although I don’t know the outcome of that case, you’ll note that the report said the suspect used to work security in Tunica, which is of course the nearby casino district. I can’t help but wonder if that person was thinking of enhancing his income by stopping people for DUI and shaking them down for a bribe.
In any event, real undercover cops in unmarked vehicles aren’t working road patrol. The fake cops in Detroit are a good reminder of that fun fact.
[photo by Carolina K. Smith MD via Shutterstock]