Local News

Smithfield reports fifth blue-light bandit sighting

Posted May 4, 2012 9:45 p.m. EDT
Updated May 5, 2012 11:57 p.m. EDT

— Smithfield police are investigating a blue light bandit incident -- the fifth reported since the end of March in Johnston County.

A woman was traveling on the Durwood Stephenson Highway Friday headed toward Wilsons Mills Road when a dark-colored car with a flashing blue light pulled up behind her. She became suspicious and reached for her phone to dial 911.

She said when she looked in her rear view mirror again with the phone to her ear, the driver of the car quickly made a U-turn and drove away.

Lt. Keith Powell of the Smithfield Police Department said blue light incidents make interaction between police and the public more strained.

"It makes our job more difficult because people are more nervous," Powell said.

In the past month and a half, four incidents have been reported in the Benson area. In three of those incidents drivers were robbed of money and valuables.

  • On March 25, a driver was robbed near McGee's Crossroads.
  • A driver was robbed April 6 on Interstate 95 near Benson.
  • A third driver reported being pulled over April 8 in Benson. That person was not robbed.
  • A fourth driver was pulled over and robbed April 11 on U.S. Highway 70 West near Ranch Road in Clayton.

Cases have also been reported in Durham and Cumberland counties in the last five weeks. Police don't necessarily believe that the cases are connected.

Powell pointed out that unmarked law enforcement vehicles have mounted blue lights at the top of the windshield, not on the dashboard. If drivers feel suspicious about a vehicle pulling them over, they should call the police and verify the stop.

"Advise the dispatcher what you've got going on. Get to a location where you feel safe, where there's other people around before you pull over," Powell said.