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Fla. Crooks Using Police Equipment for Crimes

ORLANDO, Fla. --


Badges, handcuffs, guns and sirens are typical tools for law enforcement, but crooks are also using these tools to help them commit crimes.

"It makes it harder for us to do our job knowing someone is out there impersonating," Orlando Police spokesman, Sgt. Vince Ogburn said.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 444 arrests were made for impersonating law enforcement from January 2009 to May 2011. Thirty-five of those arrests happened in Orange County.

Just this week, a man was carjacked at gunpoint outside the Sawgrass Apartments off Conway Road by a man pretending to be with the sheriff's office.

"He saw the word 'sheriff' across the vest. He believed it to be a bullet proof vest and the suspect ordered the victim out of his car. He got out of his car and the suspect handcuffed the victim," Ogburn said.

The fake deputy is still on the loose. He's described as a 6 foot tall man with a mustache, dark eyes and a slender build. He was wearing a vest with the word "sheriff" across it.

It turns out the gear that suspect was wearing is easy to get your hands on. Local 6 found websites selling police and sheriff vests, but police say it's only authentic if, "There is more than just police or sheriff written across the front of the vest," Ogburn said.

Local 6 found everything from law enforcement authentic apparel to Orlando Police and Sheriff's Office official patches.

EBay offers FHP hats, pins and patches even uniform issued collar brass.

"Usually those items are bought with an idea of deception. To commit a robbery or home invasion under the guise of a police officer," Ogburn said.

If you are pulled over, or even confronted on the street by someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer, call 911 and ask to verify that there is in fact an officer at your location.



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