Law enforcement officers are investigating three separate blue light bandit cases reported along Highway 301 in Smithfield and Selma over-the-weekend.
Three motorists have come forward reporting they were pulled over and the interior of their cars ransacked by the police impersonator. All 3 of the cases occurred during daylight hours.
Selma Police Captain W.M. Thomas said a motorist reported being pulled over on Highway 301 near the US 70 intersection. Another driver said they were stopped on Highway 301 near the Selma IGA.
Smithfield Police Captain R. Sheppard confirmed a third incident occurred around 3:40pm Sunday on Highway 301 near Hospital Road in the Pine Needle Square Shopping Center.
In all three cases, a white male with a military style haircut, about 6 foot to 6 foot 5, was driving a newer model white Dodge Charger with dark rims and a blue light on the dash. After stopping the vehicles, the impersonator, who was wearing plain clothes, approaches the cars, asks for a drivers license then demands to search the inside of the vehicle. During the search, items are tossed about and ransacked and in one case were damaged.
In the third incident on Highway 301 near Hospital Road, there may have been two suspects. The 3 victims did not report seeing a gun or other weapons.
In all three traffic stops, the blue light bandit identified himself as a Selma police officer.
Selma and Smithfield Police say they do not have any unmarked white Dodge Chargers with dark rims in their fleets. First Sgt. D.L. Mobley with the NC Highway Patrol District Office in Smithfield said they do have a white unmarked Charger with dark rims, however the officer assigned to the vehicle wears a Highway Patrol uniform and identifies himself as a state trooper.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office has not had any blue light bandit reports.
What Drivers Should Do
In light of the incidents, if an unmarked car with a blue light gets behind your vehicle and you feel unsafe or uncertain it is a real law enforcement officer, you should turn on your flashers and drive to the nearest well-lit public parking lot or convenience store where there are other people around. You can also dial 911 to confirm it is an officer attempting to pull over your vehicle.
“It is still business as usual but we have made our officers aware of the blue light bandit,” First Sgt. Mobley told WTSB News on Monday.
If you were stopped by the blue light bandit over the weekend and have not reported the incident, you are encouraged to contact your nearest law enforcement agency.
Anyone who has any information about the suspect is also asked to contact authorities.
Blue Light Bandit Cases Uncommon
Blue light bandit cases are fairly uncommon in Johnston County but they have occurred.
Between March and May 2012, five cases were reported. They occurred on I-95, Durwood Stephenson Highway, Ranch Road near Clayton, and two on I-40. The suspect was driving a dark color Ford Crown Victoria. Several of the victims were robbed at gunpoint after stopping for a flashing blue or red light.
In September 2014, a 41 year-old woman reported she was pulled over by a police impersonator on US301 just south of Four Oaks by two men wearing police style hats and black coats. The victim was unable to provide a vehicle description.
No arrests were made in any of the cases.