Man, 21, charged in Sampson 'blue-light bandit' incidents
Posted October 18, 2013
Newton Grove, N.C. — A 21-year-old Sampson County man was charged Thursday in connection with two "blue-light bandit" incidents reported on Monday.
Matthew Flores Arelleno, of 5546 Mount Olive Highway in Newtown Grove, is charged with two counts of operating a blue light.
According to investigators, Arelleno tried to pull two women over on Lassiter Road Monday night by using a windshield-mounted strobe light. Neither woman stopped because they suspected the vehicle wasn't a law enforcement patrol car, and when they pulled into nearby driveways, the suspicious vehicle didn't stop.
Arelleno surrendered to authorities Thursday, and investigators found two lights mounted near the top of his vehicle's windshield.
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton reminded the public Friday to use caution if they suspect someone is impersonating an officer.
"You can call 911 to check whether a deputy or police officer is involved in a traffic stop," Thornton said in a statement. "Citizens who are suspicious of whether or not a vehicle is a legitimate law enforcement vehicle should turn on their hazard lights, slow down below the speed limit and proceed to a well-lit and populated area before stopping."
Arelleno was in the Sampson County jail Friday under a $4,000 bond. He is scheduled to make a first court appearance on Oct. 25.