MONTEREY PARK — Police Tuesday warned residents of a police impersonator who stopped a woman last month in a bizarre encounter.
A young woman of about 18 years old was driving in the area of Graves and Alhambra avenues about 3 a.m. Aug. 9 when she was pulled over by a vehicle with red and blue lights on the upper windshield and grill, which she believed to be a police car, Monterey Park police Detective Gil Alvarez said. The vehicle was possibly an SUV, however no further description was available.
The driver was a Latino man in his 30s of thin to medium build with dark curly hair, police said. He was clean-shaven, had a dark complexion, wore a brown T-shirt and spoke with a thick Spanish accent.
The woman quickly became suspicious of the fake officer as he began questioning her in an unusual way, Alvarez.
“What caused her to be suspicious about this whole traffic stop (was that) his demeanor wasn’t professional or appropriate,” the detective said.
The man asked the woman if she was drunk, but the way he spoke simply did not seem consistent with the way a real police officer would behave, Alvarez said.
Police said the woman became even more suspicious when the pseudo officer gave a strange order: to move over to the passenger seat of the car.
She did not comply, according to investigators. It was not clear if the impersonator’s request was part of a plan to assault or kidnap the young woman.
The victim then asked to see the man’s police identification, but he refused and told her to go home, Alvarez said. She immediately reported the incident to authorities.
Having exhausted some other leads, investigators sought to seek help from the public and alert the community about the incident, Lt. Carrie Mazelin said.
Detectives have been unable to develop a composite drawing of the impersonator.
“The victim was not able to identify facial features because he was shining a flashlight in her face,” Mazelin said.
All police officers, especially those not wearing uniforms, carry police ID and will show it upon being asked, the statement said. “When in doubt, call the police and request verification that the individual is a police officer. “During late-night hours, residents may drive to a well-lit populated area if stopped by a police officer, as long as they do not attempt to evade or flee.”
Monterey Park police officials said the Aug. 9th encounter was the only similar incident reported to their agency recently, though anyone who believed they may have come across the bogus lawman is asked to call Monterey Park police Detective Alvarez at 626-307-1226. Anyone who spots the man is asked to call 9-1-1.