INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 9, 2014) - The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) sent out a public advisory warning people to be wary of police impersonators.
Especially after this past weekend in Broad Ripple.
Around 3 a.m. Saturday, two young women were walking along Carrollton Avenue, near 62nd Street, when a small dark car pulled up onto the sidewalk in their path. A black male with beard stubble got out of the car and yelled "Police! You're getting arrested, get on the ground."
The women said he had his left hand in his jacket pocket, implying that he had a gun pointed at them.
By then, it was clear it wasn't a real officer. Instead of arresting them, or telling them why he had stopped them, he took cash and a purse before getting back in his car and driving off.
IMPD says the case is a good reminder for people to be aware of their surroundings and their rights when encountering an officer.
"Obviously, you want to look for a distinctive badge, or a distinctive decal, overhead lights on a police vehicle," said IMPD Officer Chris Wilburn.
In a case like the Broad Ripple robbery, the victims didn't get the chance to verify the fake officer's identity. At that point, being good witnesses was about the best they could do.
"Don't take matters into your own hands," Wilburn said. "Try to get as much information- description of the vehicle, description or distinctive behavior characteristics of the suspect."
If you ever sense that something isn't right during an encounter with an officer, you have the right to request the officer's identification.
"If you don't sense that this is a legal or lawful encounter, then that's the time when you call 911 to verify," Wilburn said.
A 911 dispatcher can confirm whether there is an officer at your location.
In the Broad Ripple case, the suspect's description could have served as a giveaway that he was not a real officer. Real police officers don't normally have beard stubble.
"We have a professional decorum that we maintain," Wilburn said. "We're usually clean shaven. If we're in an undercover capacity, we have a uniformed officer with us if we're making an arrest."
For those who go walking during late night or early morning hours, police suggest staying in a group and parking a car in a well lighted area.
Anyone with information about Saturday morning's robber can call IMPD or Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.