Baltimore police were searching this weekend for a man who posed as a female undercover police officer, stopped a Pennsylvania woman in the parking lot of the Cross Keys Inn and told her she was under arrest.
The impersonator showed the woman a badge, took her driver's license and the registration to her 1980 Honda Civic, then told her she was wanted in connection with a hit-and-run accident, police said.
The ersatz police officer -- clad in a black, shoulder-length wig, low-cut white T-shirt and denim skirt and wearing makeup -- drove up in a late-model Honda Accord with a flashing orange light on the --board and stopped Justine Fahringer's car about 8 a.m. Saturday.
Ms. Fahringer, 25, of York, Pa., who was at the hotel to attend a seminar, bought the disguise at first, handing over her license and registration after the man showed what she thought to be a Maryland State Police badge, police said.
"At first, I did think he was a woman," Ms. Fahringer said in a telephone interview from her home yesterday, adding that she quickly realized the person confronting her was a man dressed as a woman.
"He had a very feminine male voice, but he wasn't trying to disguise the fact that he was male," she said. "He spoke real rough. He didn't speak like a police officer."
And the mention of the hit-and-run was the final proof for Ms. Fahringer. "That's when I knew he wasn't a police officer," she said. "I told him, 'You've got to be kidding.' "
The impersonator told the woman to get into his car so he could take her downtown to the police station. When she refused, he asked her if she was resisting arrest.
"I told him, 'I'm resisting whatever this is you're trying to do,' " she said.
He then displayed a pair of handcuffs and a silver-plated handgun. He began waving the gun, and told her he would use it if she didn't cooperate.
She said she ran to a passing car, got the driver to stop and told him what was happening. The driver yelled at the impersonator to stay away from Ms. Fahringer.
The phony officer got into his car and seemed to be waiting for the man to leave, Ms. Fahringer said. Instead, the Samaritan yelled again and the impersonator drove off -- taking Ms. Fahringer's license and car registration with him.
Unhurt but nervous, Ms. Fahringer went to the inn's lobby, where a security officer alerted the police.
A day after the incident, Ms. Fahringer was still feeling shaken.
"I'm kind of worried about the fact that he still has my license," she said. "It's a little scary right now."