HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Two police-officer impersonators were arrested Tuesday after apparently picking the wrong person to victimize – an off-duty Irvine police sergeant, police said.
Sgt. Bill Russell was driving home from work about 12:30 a.m. when the driver of a black Ford Crown Victoria, flashing a blue and red strobe light, tried to pull him over on the northbound 405 Freeway in the Fountain Valley area, according to Irvine police Cmdr. Mike Hallinan.
The veteran law enforcement officer realized something was not right and refused to pull over. The suspect then flashed a spot light into the sergeant’s window. He still would not pull over. The Crown Victoria eventually took off.
But the two people inside the car could not go far because the off-duty sergeant followed the suspects’ vehicle while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.
“He did exactly what we want him to do – don’t get involved, call 911 and get some uniformed people there,” Hallinan said. “And then he was a good witness.”
CHP officers later caught up with the Ford as it exited the Northbound 405 Freeway at Beach Boulevard and pulled over on Center Avenue in Westminster.
They arrested Armando Raul Hernandez-Perez of Aliso Viejo, 26, and April Noemi Lopez-Fabian of Laguna Hills, 20.
When officers searched the car, they found replica guns, flashlights, strobes and wallets that belonged to other people.
Investigators said in cases similar to this, “In past incidents, odds are most of the time, it’s a robbery of some sort. But there are some instances across the country where people have been kidnapped and bad things done to them,” said CHP Officer Tom Joy.
The suspects were booked into Orange County Main Jail on $20,000 bail each.
The CHP said there are ways to make sure the officers who pull you over are real. “Most enforcement vehicles, you’re going to have a solid red light,” Joy said.
Here are some other things to remember once you are pulled over:
- Don’t unlock your doors or windows until you are sure the officer is legitimate.
- Ask for identification.
- Call 911 if you detect something suspicious.