One man, who doesn't want to be identified, says he was approached by someone claiming to be a police detective last Thursday.
"He's like, 'Excuse me, I'm a police officer in Sugar Land.' He says that clearly," the man recalled. "He shows his badge."
The man police are now calling an imposter told the victim to get in his car and show his identification. The victim says he did and was then questioned.
The victim said, "The first question he asked me was, 'What's your ZIP code?'"
The victim was then ordered to provide proof of insurance.
"We turned our eyes off him for a brief second," he said. "We don't know that was the time when he pick pocketed out of the wallet."
The alleged officer let the victim go. Less than an hour later, surveillance video captured the suspect using the victim's credit card at a nearby Kroger. Sugar Land police say the suspect purchased a $500 gift card.
Eric Babnew with the Sugar Land Police Department said, "He's approaching generally Asian or Indian males."
Police are investigating three such incidents of a man fitting this description ripping off credit cards last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In each, the victims were approached on foot, in a parking lot. In each case, a man identified himself as a police officer, claiming he was conducting an investigation and sometimes saying he needed to see the contents of their wallets.
"He's asked them for their registration, where they divert their attention from their wallet, and he removes their credit cards at that time," Babnew explained.
In each case he was then spotted using those cards within minutes at a nearby store. In surveillance video from a cigar store, police say the suspect made no attempt to hide himself from cameras. The victim says the incident has shattered the unquestioned trust he once had in law enforcement.
The victim said, "That's really mind boggling as far as how he can do that right away. (I'm) just really upset. You know, it can happen to anybody at any time."
The thefts occurred on:
- July 29, at 12:30am, at Starbucks, 16098 City Walk
- July 30, at 1:30pm, at Bally's Total Fitness, 13444 Southwest Freeway
- July 31, at 9pm, in the Lake Point parking lot, 15800 Southwest Freeway
The suspect was described as a heavy-set black man with a fair complexion and a large stomach. He was 30 to 40 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, and weighed 210 to 225 pounds.
Anyone with information should call the Sugar Land Police Department at 281-275-2540 or Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers at 281-342-TIPS (8477).