Tucson police arrested an Oro Valley man accused of impersonating a cop to apparently score drugs.
The man's name is being withheld because the investigation is ongoing and Counter Narcotics Alliance detectives are searching for more victims, said Officer Chris Hawkins, a Tucson Police Department spokesman, on Wednesday.
The suspect, who is in his 30s, was booked into the Pima County jail on charges of kidnapping and impersonating a law enforcement officer, Hawkins said. He said additional charges are pending.
"Detectives believe there are more victims out there, and want them to independently recognize the suspect," said Hawkins, explaining why his name and mug shot were not released.
On Dec. 19, officers responded to a suspicious activity call where a man, who was impersonating and undercover cop, stopped and searched three young men. One of the men was handcuffed, Hawkins said.
The incident happened in the area of West 40th Street and South 10th Avenue.
When the cop impersonator realized he did not have the key to the handcuffs, he asked the men if they had a device to cut the cuffs off. They did not and he instructed them to go to the main police station downtown where the cuffs could be removed, said Hawkins.
The impersonator gave the men his name, and they wrote down his vehicle's license plate number, which they turned over to police. Detectives were able to track down the vehicle and where the suspect lived through the name, Hawkins said.
A search warrant was served at the suspect's home, and detectives found the vehicle used in the illegal stop. Inside the white four-door sedan, detectives found a forward-facing dashboard camera. The stop reported to police was documented on that video, said Hawkins. Detectives also found illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia in the car.
The impersonator's car also had a red-and-blue flashing visor light, Hawkins said.
In addition, several other incidents that occurred earlier in the day were also recorded. The suspect was involved in four incidents, said Hawkins. He said all were in the area of 40th Street and 10th Avenue. In some of the instances, the suspect walked up to victims who were sitting in their parked vehicles. He did not initiate traffic stops.
Hawkins said the police impersonator asked the victims in all instances for narcotics. He carried a handheld scanner on his belt, a radio earpiece, and an expandable baton, said Hawkins. He said flashing lights in the car were installed near the visor of the front windshield.
Hawkins said police did not see a gun on the impersonator or find a gun during the search of his home and vehicle.
Police released a video that documented part of the incidents from Dec. 19. Detectives do not know if the suspect impersonated a cop and made other illegal stops, searches or confiscated drugs from people prior to Dec. 19.
Detectives are asking anyone who may have been stopped or pulled over by a similar unmarked vehicle to call 719-2002, ext. 723.
Hawkins said TPD does have plainclothes officers working in unmarked vehicles, and they do occasionally conduct traffic stops. Persons can call 911 if they do not believe that they are being stopped by a legitimate police officer.
All officers carry a badge and police identification. A 911 operator can verify the name and badge number of the officer, Hawkins said.