Local News

'Blue-light bandit' may be patrolling Harnett roads

Posted November 28, 2012
Updated November 30, 2012

— Harnett County authorities said Wednesday that they are investigating reports that someone impersonating a law enforcement officer followed at least two vehicles last weekend.

A Fuquay-Varina woman told deputies that she was driving on Chalybeate Road in northwest Harnett County at about 6:45 p.m. Saturday when a dark-colored vehicle turned on red and blue flashing lights and began following her as she turned on to Baptist Grove Road. The unidentified woman called her boyfriend and stayed on the phone with him as she drove to his home, and the trailing vehicle turned off the flashing lights and sped off when she pulled into his driveway, authorities said.

Less than three hours later, a second woman said a vehicle with flashing lights began following her at the same intersection but never tried to pull her over.

A man told authorities that he was driving near the intersection of Oakridge River and Cokesbury roads in the same part of the county at about 8 p.m. Sunday when he spotted a vehicle turning red and blue flashing lights on and off. The unidentified man said he turned around in the intersection to get a better look at the vehicle, which then sped away.

The vehicle is described as dark blue or green, resembling an unmarked police cruiser. The flashing lights were on the car's grill and atop the dashboard, authorities said.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said his deputies weren't in the area when any of the three cases were reported, so whoever used the emergency lights is an impostor.

"There's high alert in the area. You can believe it," Rollins said.

blue light, police light Harnett, Johnston 'bandit' cases may be linked

A Harnett County Sheriff's Office incident report indicates that someone impersonating an officer robbed Christopher Lassiter, 21, a Campbell University student, on Oct. 20 after stopping him on U.S. Highway 401 near Rawls Church Road, which is in the same part of the county as last weekend's incidents.

Rollins said he has talked with Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell about similar "blue-light bandit" cases in that county, but he's uncertain if the cases are linked.

Five incidents of a police impersonator following drivers were reported in Johnston County between late March and early May. Three of those people were robbed.

Other cases were reported in Cumberland and Durham counties last spring.

"The vehicles could be similar, it sounds like, in Johnston County, so we could be dealing with the same guy," Rollins said.

Authorities said anyone who is pulled over by a car with flashing lights can call 911 to check whether a deputy or police officer is involved in the traffic stop. Drivers also should turn on their hazard lights and stop in well-lit areas.

"We want the community to be on alert for this and have awareness of it, but it makes our job harder," Rollins said, adding that he hopes the "blue-light bandit" slips up and pulls over the wrong person.

"I hope it's one of my undercover deputies. They'll be prepared," he said.

24 Comments

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  • workinghuman33 Nov 30, 2:41 p.m.

    I am a lot more prone to trust the crooks than the cops. At least the crooks are honest about what they are but the cops are not.
    piene2""

    I would imagine this is largely based on your personal experience, and my opinion is also based on my personal experience. LEO's are just people with a very risky & highly underpaid job. I don't think that they are Gods...although some LEO's have a God complex...I find those LEO's to be few and far between. I believe some are good, bad and ugly. My experience is my ex, LEO 20 years. I was in criminal defense. We joked that he arrested them and I tried to get them acquitted. We had to keep our credit absolutely clean, and be debt free mostly because of the agency he worked for....they didn't want to employ anyone that would have a need to be "on the take". I am sure a lot of LEA's do the same. I am sorry you've had negative experience with LEO's that brings you to trust crooks more than cops...trust me I had clients with a similar view.

  • Lena Nov 29, 5:57 p.m.

    WRAL - thanks for the heads up. I frequently drive through that area alone. Someone who is bold enough to rob people they stop using fake police lights is a risk to everyone. Very scary. I'm not going to stop for anyone in that area and I will immediately call 911. Hopefully the police can catch this dangerous whacko.

  • piene2 Nov 29, 4:55 p.m.

    " I've seen this sort of crime and it's generally the impostor not actual law enforcement. I pray it's my scenario and not an LEO...very scary.
    workinghuman33"

    I am a lot more prone to trust the crooks than the cops. At least the crooks are honest about what they are but the cops are not.

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 29, 4:03 p.m.

    "The cops are such geniuses that they follow a set patrol route much like a city bus" piene2

    Please go to google earth and look for yourself how large Harnett Co is. No way do they have a city bus like patrol route.

  • workinghuman33 Nov 29, 12:47 p.m.

    hat too is a possibility. either way I feel it is someone familiar enough with the cops routines to show up where they are not going to be.-piene2"

    I agree with you on the suspect's familiarity of police, and locations...you could discern that with the correct scanner if you knew someone in LE and knew which channels they'd be reporting on that particular day or night. In my own personal experience I've seen this sort of crime and it's generally the impostor not actual law enforcement. I pray it's my scenario and not an LEO...very scary.

  • bdu4dals2 Nov 29, 12:34 p.m.

    My wife knows unmarked car, slow down, flashers and next populated area, me, basically the same but if the car turned around, thats when the hunted becomes the hunter and dude now has a bad problem.....thats just me though.

  • jrfergerson Nov 29, 12:24 p.m.

    Wanta be cop- limelight imposter - he will one day run into a real cop that is off duty or one that is in an unmarked vehicle and that will take him to prison for many many years or worse.

  • piene2 Nov 29, 12:09 p.m.

    "Piene2" You may be correct that it's an off duty officer but I personally think I'd be more likely that it's someone who was rejected by some law enforcement agency. Some guy that has ridden along with officers, wants desperatly to be a cop, has scanner, all the gadgets & feels entitled to have his dream fulfilled...but I could be wrong.
    workinghuman33"

    That too is a possibility. either way I feel it is someone familiar enough with the cops routines to show up where they are not going to be.

  • passport423 Nov 29, 11:21 a.m.

    Even if he pulls someone over that has a gun, I'm not sure how you could defend yourself or get out of the situation. You wouldn't be crazy enough to pull a gun on the person before finding out he was a fake cop because you'd be afraid he was a real cop and would shoot you. By the time you figure it out, you probably cannot reach your firearm.

  • mj1angier Nov 29, 10:11 a.m.

    He keeps it up and he will pull over the wrong person and get a load of lead...

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