Officials are warning the public to be on alert after a man pretended to be a police officer and stole several items during a traffic stop ruse, the Orange County Sheriff's Department said Friday.
Thursday night, a driver heading north on the Golden State (5) Freeway in San Clemente noticed flashing blue and red lights coming from what looked like a police cruiser behind his car, officials said.
The driver pulled into a Jack in the Box restaurant parking lot in the 2900 block of S. El. Camino Real. After stopping, the driver was approached by an "extremely aggressive" man who ordered the driver to get out of the car and sit on the curb, officials said.
The impostor stole the driver's wallet, cellphone and keys from the car as the victim sat on the curb, officials said.
The man was described Hispanic, 25 to 35 years old with medium length hair and a thin mustache. He was seen wearing unmarked "SWAT type" clothing, a black long-sleeved shirt and pants.
Authorities said he was either driving a Crown Victoria or an Infinity G35 or G37 that looked similar to a police cruiser with police lights on the dashboard.
"If you are being pulled over by a police officer, you should see that the red and blue and flashing lights, there should be solid red light on any vehicle that is pulling you over, that’s state law," Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said.
Hallock added that it's important to look at what the person who pulled you over is wearing.
"They should have some type of patch, badge, a nametag, something to indicate that they're of some type of law enforcement agency," Hallock said.
A second person was seen near the impostor's car, but the victim could not provide a description, officials said.
Anyone with information to call OC sheriff's investigators at 949-361-8224 or 714-647-7000.