This post has been updated.
He had a gold badge on his belt and flashing lights on his dash. But the guy making an arrest in the parking lot of a Pennypack Woods 7-Eleven Wednesday night was definitely not a cop.
Two real cops spotted the 10:30 p.m. encounter as they pulled their cruiser to a stop at a red light at Frankford Avenue and Tolbut street, police spokeswoman Officer Jillian Russell said. They arrested the 23-year-old man impersonating a cop, whom Lt. John Stanford identified as Julian Collins, who lives on Welsh Road in Winchester Park. Collins is now charged with impersonating an officer.
Stranger, still, than some random fake cop pulling over a guy is that there were two random fake cops arresting guys about an hour earlier in the same area.
Police believe the incidents are unrelated, but Stanford said in the earlier incident, two men posing as police officers who were driving a Chevy Malibu with flashing red and blue lights on the dash pulled over a truck with three men in it on McMenamy Street near Walker in Holmesburg.
The non-cops, one of whom wore a shirt that read "police," got out of their car, guns drawn, and ordered the three men out of their truck, Stanford said. They then cuffed the trio and loaded them into the back of the truck and drove off.
Stanford said eventually, a struggle ensued inside the truck and the three men were able to escape and call the actual police. One suffered a broken arm in the fight, and two cell phones were taken in addition to the truck, according to Stanford.
Stanford gave these tips on what to do if you think you're being stopped by a fake cop:
- If an unmarked car or truck is trying to pull you over, Stanford said, "the first thing I would say to do is put on your hazard lights and drive to a location that’s well-lit. Don’t make it look like you’re fleeing, in case it is a police officer, but you do want to go to an area that’s well-lit."
- Real police should have a badge identifying them and a Philadelphia Police Department-issued identification card. Ask to see both when you're stopped.
- If you're being pulled over and you suspect the "officer" may be a fraud, call 9-1-1 and give your location, give a description of the person and the car stopping you and request a marked car, then stay in your vehicle until the marked car gets there.