Fake cops target victims along Katy Freeway

December 22, 2010 3:07:00 PM PST
A group of people traveling through Houston were terrorized by fake cops. They were robbed and left on the side of the road after being pulled over by men they thought were police. Authorities say it could happen to anyone.

The attack happened off the Katy Freeway near the Grand Parkway, a busy area of town. The victims - Gregorio Morales and Vicente Bravo - were driving westbound on the Katy Freeway around 9:20pm Tuesday. Investigators say the two were passing through Houston towards Mexico, when they were pulled over by a large white truck with a single blue light flashing through its windshield.

"Suspect exited the truck wearing a dark blue jacket, blue jeans and a walkie talkie type Nextel phone on his hip," said Deputy Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

The victims told detectives that person said in Spanish that he was police and ordered them out of their truck.

"The suspect gets in the passenger seat, starts the truck and takes off," Deputy Gilliland said.

Abandoned on the side of the freeway, the victims called 911 and then friends who came to pick them up outside a nearby movie theater. Those we talked to said they too would likely pull over if they were to see similar flashing lights in their rear view mirror.

"If it's a police officer, I probably would," said Susan Londano.

"It's concerning, it's concerning to all of us. Nobody wants his car to be jacked," said Joseph Abboud.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said if you ever have any question about the legitimacy of an officer trying to pull you over, you can call 911 and have a dispatcher tell you if that person is the real deal.

"If they don't feel comfortable, call 911. We'll certainly come out and figure out what's going on," said Dep. Gilliland.

Authorities say the suspects didn't show badges or weapons. Officials say there are distinct warning signs to look for when being pulled over.

"In the state of Texas, your agencies use a red and blue light, not just a solid blues like they use in other parts of the country," said Chief Terry Thurman with the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable's Office. "And also the person that is being stopped needs to be aware to make sure the police car is actually marked as department markings on the car and the officer is in full uniform."

Chief Thurman also said that it is OK for drivers to put on their emergency lights and drive to a well-lit area before coming to a complete stop.

Investigators don't have a good description on the suspects or the truck they were using other than to say it was a white 'dualie.'

The truck stolen was a 1995 white Ford Ranger two door with Virginia plates XJC 8990. If you see that vehicle or have information that can help, you can call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.


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