Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2000

Beware police impersonators

August 3, 2000

The armed robbery of a DeSoto family last month was part of a recent eruption in similar crimes, authorities say.

Two men claiming to be police officers early Tuesday morning robbed a residence in the 30800 block of W. 87th Street. The two men, according to police reports, told the family they were serving a search warrant.

Crimes of this nature have sprung up throughout the metro area during the past three months, Robert Lane, Kansas City Kan. Police department detective, said. Lane said three or four have been executed in Kansas City alone.

Sunday night, a similar robbery in Kansas City occurred. Lane said this robbery and the one in DeSoto were probably related.

"Either it's the same people or just copycat," Lane said. "A lot of things on the media just gives other people ideas."

The two men who robbed the DeSoto family were dressed in SWAT team attire.

Captain Vince Werkowitch of the Johnson County Sheriff's department said this clothing is readily available to the public.

If people find themselves in similar situations and doubt that the search warrant is legitimate, Lane said the first thing people should do is call 911.

"Anybody can get a hold of a badge, and plus, they sell shirts that say police, SWAT and sheriff," he said.

Lane said these armed criminals are taking an aggressive role.

"These people are forcing their way in," he said. "They're kicking the door in and acting like police."

Werkowitch said the best thing for people to do is to look for uniforms and marked cars. In the case of a search warrant, he said that seven to 13 police officers would be on the scene.

"The best thing to do is to talk through the door first and look out the window," he said.

Uniforms, badges and police cars can easily be forged. Werkowitch said an official picture identification that is signed by a city manager should be sought.

"Usually what we tell people is to ask for somebody who is in charge and for the search warrant," he said.

Those who resist the execution of a search warrant will face forced entry by police officers and could be issued additional charges, Werkowitch said. If foul play is suspected, though, he said calling 911 is the best resort.

Police currently have no suspects in these crimes, and investigations are ongoing.

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