Local News

Tips for Spotting Blue Light Bandits

Posted Updated

RALEIGH — You see the blue light spinning in your rear view mirror. Your initial instinct is probably to pull over. However, before you yank the steering wheel, consider that the car could be a police imposter.

It can be easy to spot the imposters if you remember to do a few simple things.

The vast majority of the time the person pulling you over will be a legitimate officer, although you should be mentally prepared just in case they are not.

They are called blue light bandits, people who pull you over pretending to be an officer in an unmarked car with a blue flashing light. It happened a few days ago to a woman driving near Apex. Her persistence to see his I.D. may have saved her life.

"He refused, she insisted. She became apprehensive, and when she insisted again he turned around and walked and got into his car and drove off," Wake County Sheriff's Department Lt. R.L. Johnson said.

A legitimate officer would not have hesitated because they have to show identification. There are some safety tips to keep in mind if you are pulled over by someone in an unmarked car.
  • Ask for I.D. - a real officer should volunteer it
  • Keep your doors locked
  • Don't roll your window down all the way
  • If you're apprehensive, turn your flashers on and drive to a lighted area, the officer will understand.
  • "I always keep my doors locked, and usually I keep my windows up at night," Raleigh resident Monisha Edgerton said.

    Angela Whitlock's father is a Sheriff's deputy and she says from day one he told her never to pull over in a dark area.

    "Even if they had the lights on top of the car, he always told me not to stop for them that I could drive to a gas station or something where there were people at," Whitlock said.

    The main tip to keep in mind is to trust your gut feeling. If someone pulls you over in an unmarked car on a deserted street, turn your flashers on and drive to a well lit area. Reporter: Lynda Loveland