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Tucson police warn of imposter who stopped, handcuffed woman

A woman driving a car on Tucson's East Side was stopped by an unmarked car with flashing lights on Saturday morning. A man claiming to be a police officer handcuffed the woman and stuck her in the back seat of his car for a while before releasing her. The man was not a real cop, authorities said.

Police are asking anyone who sees a traffic stop involving a bronze or gold 2003-2009 sedan, with red and blue lights mounted on the dashboard, to call 911 immediately.

The incident took place in a residential area near East Broadway and North Wilmot Road around 8 a.m. Saturday, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman said.

After the woman was pulled over, "an adult male approached her vehicle, wearing civilian clothes, and advised he was an off-duty police officer," Sgt. Kimberly Bay said.

"The male did not provide any form of identification. He detained the driver in handcuffs and placed her in the back seat of his vehicle for a period of time before he released her," Bay said Saturday night.

Tucson police "have found no indication that this male was affiliated with law enforcement," she said.

The allegedly fake cop is a white or Hispanic man in his late 20s or early 30s. He was described as 5'9"-6'1" tall, with an athletic build. He had dark groomed hair, dark eyes and tan skin, Bay said.

Anyone who spots a traffic stop involving a bronze or gold car with dashboard lights should "note as much information about the vehicle (such as make, model or license plate) that can be done safely," Bay said, and call 911 to report the incident.

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Bay reminded citizens of the following safety tips:

  • Officers do conduct traffic stops in unmarked vehicles. However, if you are stopped by an unmarked vehicle you can call 911 to verify the validity and slowly drive to a public, populated area, like a gas station or busy parking lot.
  • Officers performing official duties will either be wearing a police uniform or some indicia clearly identifying themselves as police. You can request their name and badge number and to ask see their issued identification card.
  • If you ever have any doubt as to the identity of any police officer, you may call 911 to verify the officer's identity.
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