Troopers look for impostor police officer

Impersonation incident Tuesday was third in recent weeks

Different vehicles used

Westminster woman, 30, was stopped this week but fled unharmed

Carroll County

January 08, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

For the third time in less than three weeks, Maryland State Police are investigating an incident in which a Carroll County motorist was stopped by someone impersonating a police officer.

The latest incident involved a woman who was pulled over and then followed by an unknown man Tuesday night, authorities at the county sheriff's office reported yesterday.

The 30-year-old Westminster woman was unharmed but shaken up, said Maj. Thomas Long. She was not identified. Long said an initial investigation did not link this suspect with two other stops that occurred Friday and on Dec. 21.

"So far it looks like a different vehicle in every incident," Long said. "You have to be concerned this person is using the authority of the police. Hopefully, this is as far as it's going to escalate."

He said the woman was traveling north of Westminster on Littlestown Pike when she stopped at the traffic light at Bachman Valley Road about 8 p.m. She noticed flashing headlights and saw a red strobe light in her rear-view mirror. The light was on the dashboard of what she described as a full-size, older model, dark-colored Chevrolet that looked like a police car.

Long said she pulled over to the shoulder and the suspect's vehicle pulled in behind her. In her rear-view mirror, she saw the man, whom she described as a white male, 5 feet 11 inches tall and wearing a light-colored goose-down-style coat, get out of his car and stand behind her car for a short while.

"That's when she felt something was amiss," Long said. "She was alarmed enough by the incident that she drove away."

The suspect, he said, followed her as she continued north on Littletown Pike and when she turned left onto Stone Road. He drove past her when she pulled into a residential driveway. She later called the police.

"What worries me is, what is their motive for stopping these people?" said state police Detective Sgt. Andrew Winner, who learned about the incident yesterday afternoon. "It creates a risk when you have someone stopping people who doesn't know what they're doing."

That a woman driving alone was targeted is cause for heightened concern, Winner said.

In his 15 years at the Westminster state police barracks, Winner said, a case involving police impersonators happens about once a year.

He is assigned as an investigator to the cases. No arrests have been made.

Early Friday, a motorist on Carrollton Road near Houck Road was pulled over by a car with a siren and red and blue strobe light, police said. The suspect drove away when the motorist got out of his vehicle.

Police described the suspect in the first incident as white male with blond hair, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and , weighing about 160 pounds. He was wearing khaki pants and a dark-colored beige jacket with what appeared to be a police badge attached to his jacket.

On Dec. 21, a man in a dark-colored, two-door hatchback with a red and blue emergency light pulled over a motorist on Route 91 near Route 30 and took his driver's license before driving off, police said.

The license has not been recovered.

Authorities advised motorists unsure of the authenticity of an officer in such situations to ask for police credentials; keep the window low enough so no one can reach in; keep a mobile phone handy to call the 911 dispatcher asking for verification; and refrain from confrontation.

State police urge anyone with information to call the Westminster barracks at 410-386-3000.

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