ALHAMBRA — Police arrested a suspected police impersonator Friday after he allegedly pulled over a motorist in Alhambra, authorities said.
Steven Pritz, 37, of Alhambra was booked on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and false imprisonment, Alhambra police Sgt. Joe Flannagan said in a written statement. He is also suspected in another similar incident in February.
An Alhambra officer was driving in the area of Garfield Avenue and Mission Road about 11 a.m. when he saw what appeared to be an unmarked police car conducting a traffic stop using red and blue lights attached to the windshield by suction cups, Sgt. Gabriel Ponce said.
Believing the traffic stop to be legitimate, Flannagan said, the Alhambra officer made a U-turn to assist.
“As the Alhambra officer made the U-turn, he observed that the possible off-duty officer saw him and suddenly and abruptly disengaged the traffic stop,” Flannagan said.
The Alhambra officer caught up with the police-style car at Mission Road and Hidalgo Avenue, Ponce said.
While searching Pritz’s car, he added, police found red and blue lights with suction cup attachments, a vest patch reading “police,” black gloves and a black metal flashlight.
Officers searched Pritz’s home, where they found more police-related items such as handcuffs, black police-style boots, and a black patch resembling the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s star logo, Flannagan said.
The person who Pritz allegedly pulled over was not found, Ponce said. Police would like to talk to that person.
Friday’s incident was apparently not the first time Pritz has tried to pass himself off as a law
enforcement officer, Flannagan said.
“During the investigation,” he said, “(Pritz) was identified as the suspect in another incident in February, where he identified himself as a police officer and displayed the police vest patch in an attempt to contact a female driver, and threatened to impound her vehicle because of her driving.”
Pritz was released from jail later Friday after posting $50,000 bail, according to sheriff’s booking records.
Anyone else who believed they may have been pulled over or contacted by Pritz is asked to call Sgt. Flannagan at 626-570-5161.
Friday’s incident was the second time in two weeks that a suspected police impersonator tried to pull over a motorist.
Michael Joseph Defazio, 24, of Glendora, was jailed on March 25 after he tried to pull over a 25-year-old woman in a police-style car in his hometown, officials said.
Authorities are now investigating additional complaints against Defazio.
*PHOTOS courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.