Police impersonators in two Colorado cities have pulled over motorists, saying they are conducting checks on compliance with the state's stay-at-home order, authorities said.
A woman was pulled over on March 26 in Fort Collins, an hour north of Denver, by someone in a white van with red-and-blue lights on its windshield, the city’s police services said Tuesday.
The man, who never identified himself, said he “stopped her to verify that she was obeying the order to stay at home related to the COVID-19,” police said.
The man asked for the woman's driver’s license, insurance information and car registration, and appeared to review the documents before handing them back and letting her go. The woman reported the incident to police after learning the city was not conducting such traffic stops, according to NBC Denver affiliate KUSA.
“Although we are still enforcing transit laws, we are not making transit stops related to COVID-19,” Fort Collins Assistant Police Chief John Feyen said in a statement. “Unfortunately, criminals in this country are taking advantage of this situation in many shapes.”
In nearby Greeley, Colorado, several residents told police they were pulled over or “waved through a funnel type roadblock” and subsequently questioned for “violating the COVID-19” law, KUSA reported.
One woman told police she was stopped by fake cops at 4:50 a.m. on Friday morning, the Denver Post reported. She was directed to an area marked with traffic cones where three or four silver cars were parked, some with flashing lights on their dashboards.
The woman said she saw multiple people wearing yellow traffic vests. The woman was questioned and held there for 10 minutes. She was shown something that looked like a ticket but was not given one, the Post reported.
The Greeley Police Department said in a statement that it confirmed none of its officers, county sheriff's deputies or state troopers “conducted these traffic stops.”
The department also said people imitating officers were wearing black uniforms and had red-and-blue lights on their dashboards, but had no badge and little equipment on their duty belts.
Fort Collins and Greeley are among five different areas in Colorado where police impersonators have been reported in the past week, according to KUSA. It is not immediately clear if any of the same people are involved in the different incidents, which are all under investigation in the various cities.
Both Fort Collins and Greeley advised residents who believe they are being stopped by someone impersonating a cop to call 911, make sure to pull their car over in a public area with good lighting, and get the supposed officer’s identification.
Colorado, which has a stay-at-home order in place for the entire state, has 2,966 reported cases of the coronavirus, including 69 deaths, as of Wednesday, according to an NBC News tally.