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‘Trust your gut’: Woman escapes officer impostor thanks to calls from husband

By Bryn Caswell

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    WOOSTER, Ohio (WEWS) — The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is warning drivers about a possible impersonator pulling people over. WCSO said the impersonator appears to be targeting women, trying to lure them out of their cars. This has happened three times in the last week, and they believe more victims would be out there.

The sheriff’s office is stressing caution and vigilance from drivers as they take to Northeast Ohio roadways.

“It’s important to realize the individuals doing this are not law enforcement officers. They are pretending to be law enforcement officers,” said Captain Douglas Hunter with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

This warning comes after three reports of a law enforcement officer impostor pulling over drivers on Route 83 south of Burbank and east of Wooster. Hunter said the impersonator is driving a dark sedan with a spotlight and red and blue lights in the visor area. He’s also wearing a uniform with the word “sheriff” across the chest with a duty belt, and a body cam.

“It appears this person is targeting women and asking them to get out of their cars,” Hunter added. “We can only speculate, but that could lead to some type of abduction or sexual assault or something of that nature.”

One of the victims, Tabitha King, told News 5 she was driving down Route 83 last Tuesday, on her way home from the gym, when a dark vehicle pulled out and began following her.

“The car whipped out behind me, headlights, they were just red lights and used their headlights to pull me over,” said King. “So, I just assumed it was a police officer.”

King didn’t feel comfortable showing her face on camera since no arrests have been made yet. She said a man matching the sheriff’s office description started asking her a series of questions and never asked for her license or registration.

“He asked me if I had a weapon in the vehicle, which I thought was an odd first question,” said King. “Then he wanted me to get out of the car and inspect my headlights to see if they were working, which I thought was very off. I immediately said no, I am not getting out of the car. He then wanted my phone and asked me to hand over my phone.”

That was King’s first time ever getting pulled over, but she knew something was strange.

“I just felt this overwhelming sense of danger, that this was not right,” King added. “That this is not how things like this go.”

Hunter said the sheriff’s office isn’t sure if there are multiple impostors or just one, but added in any instance of uncertainty to call 911 or the dispatch center immediately and never exit your vehicle.

“If there is something troubling and it seems not right in an unmarked police car, generally law enforcement officers are not going to be performing general traffic duties in an unmarked car,” Hunter added.

Luckily King’s car doors were locked, she left her driver’s side window cracked, and her husband began calling her out of concern.

“The man then asked me if I was going to answer that call,” King said. “Was someone expecting me, did I live close by?”

When King responded yes to living close by, she said the impostor went back to his car and took off. She’s grateful nothing worse happened because she has three kids at home.

“I just didn’t feel safe,” King added. “I felt like something was wrong. Trust your gut. There was a reason why I felt the way I did.”

As of now, no arrests have been made. The WCSO asks if you know any information about these incidents or need to report one, to call 330-264-3333.

Just a few weeks ago, there were reports of fake police officers, pulling over drivers in Cleveland and robbing them. The real police arrested one suspect, but detectives are looking for three others.

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