A group of brazen police impersonators are wanted for a string of carjackings in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, the latest of which left an off-duty sheriff’s detention deputy without his black Chevrolet Suburban Friday, authorities say.
Friday morning, Broward sheriff's Deputy Arthur Reeves was pulled over by the robbers in a red Volvo who used blue and red flashing lights on the Florida's Turnpike Extension near the University Drive/Northwest 27th Avenue exit, officials say.
“It's 4:30 in the morning. He is northbound on the turnpike. He sees blue and red flashing lights behind him," said Broward sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. "He can't see the vehicle. He just sees the lights, so he thought this was a routine traffic stop."
Two assailants armed with guns stole Reeves' Suburban, but left the deputy unharmed, the Sheriff’s Office said. A third assailant stayed in the Volvo as his accomplices conducted the carjacking.
If armed police impersonators can carjack an off-duty Broward sheriff's detention deputy, any driver can fall victim to them, officials say. But authorities reminded the public there are ways for drivers to minimize the risk of being robbed by police impersonators.
During traffic stops, drivers should:
- Be suspicious, especially if they haven’t broken any traffic rules. (Unmarked vehicles are used less often by officers than marked cruisers to perform traffic stops.)
- At night, drive to a well-lighted, populated area before pulling over.
- If possible, phone 911 and provide the dispatcher the location where the traffic stop is being conducted. The dispatcher should be able to say if it’s a real officer performing the stop.
The carjackers who stole Reeves’ vehicle Friday are suspected of carrying out at least two other carjackings in recent days.
Just hours before Reeves was carjacked, a Dodge Challenger was stolen from a driver on Northwest 12th Avenue in Miami Gardens under similar circumstances, police said.
“It's very quick,” said Miami Gardens police Sgt. Bill Bamford. “We have three gentlemen that are impersonating police officers, stopping a car, driving a red Volvo.
“And once the unsuspecting victim pulls over, they jump out, steal the car and they're gone, leaving the victim on the side of the road.”
Tuesday, the carjackers stole a Volvo from its owner on Park Road in Hollywood. That is the Volvo thought to have been used during Friday’s carjacking.
“Perhaps these suspects are out there bragging about what they've been able to do,” Coleman-Wright said. “But we need to know who they are. We need to get them identified. They are considered armed and dangerous, and we need to stop them before they hurt someone."
Friday, authorities issued a be-on-the-lookout alert for Reeves’ Suburban, which has a Florida license plate with tag number ATLJ72.
Authorities ask anyone with information to call Broward Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477.
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