Posted on August 20, 2004

Robbers Posing As Cops Prey On Recent Immigrants To Valley

Yvonne Wingett, Arizona Republic, Aug. 17

Smooth-talking criminals posing as law enforcement agents are targeting Hispanics for robbery, especially recent immigrants, Phoenix authorities have warned Spanish-speaking residents.

The pseudo cops have struck three times across the city, robbing drivers and residents, according to Phoenix police reports and officers.

“We think there’s more victims out there, but people are afraid to call the police,” said Detective Icela Brown, of Silent Witness Inc. “It could be because they’re not here legally.”

Brandishing a state Department of Public Safety-style badge, two men earlier this summer pulled over a driver near 35th Avenue south of Bethany Home Road. The imposter searched the victim, robbed him and took him to Phoenix Baptist Hospital for “fingerprinting,” according to a police report.

In a June 29 incident, another victim was robbed by two Latinos claiming to be officers driving an unmarked car. After pulling over the victims with a rotating roof light, the suspects robbed the driver.

“The guy took their wallet and then they took off,” Brown said. “We don’t normally ask for wallets. We’ll ask for driver’s licenses, registration and insurance.”

In another instance, three men were dressed in black shirts resembling those worn by FBI agents, Brown said. They ordered everyone down and again demanded money.

The crimes are perpetuating distrust of public safety officials among recent arrivals from Mexico and South America, authorities said. That frustrates police because it has been a challenge to persuade immigrants to report crimes.

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