Truck drivers are being warned to be wary of criminals using marked police vehicles after a truck was hijacked in Cape Town using the same modus operandi.
Athlone police opened a case of hijacking after a truck was flagged down by a marked police Nissan double cab in Athlone.
Police said the driver was dropped off unharmed in Muizenberg and the suspects got away with cigarettes worth R3 million.
In their effort to lure unsuspecting truckers criminal syndicates are not only recruiting police officers into their ranks or impersonating them, but going all the way to duplicate marked police cars.
The cars are exactly the same, it won’t be easy for anyone to easily identify it as fake.
Flying squad members who responded to the incident said: “The marked police cab with cloned number plates had not been found and is still out there. We are not sure if the suspects were real or bogus cops.”
Institute for Security Studies (ISS) researcher Johan Burger said bogus police posed a real threat and the only way to stay out of their reach was for motorists to go to a mall or a garage.
Burger added that criminals impersonating police officers tended to carry out their devious plans on deserted roads. The situation was compounded by corrupt officers who were also allegedly carrying out robberies, hijacking and bribing motorists.
He said this makes it difficult for people to distinguish when pulled off the road, or asked to stop, whether it is real police officers or bogus cops. At the same time it was dangerous when travelling at night and faced with these situations on deserted and dark roads.
Burger explained that this type of crime wasn’t new and was committed countrywide, adding that such crimes were at times sporadic, flared up in certain areas and became a hot topic once in the media headlines.
“This type of crime comes in three forms. First is fully clothed police officers openly committing robberies, hijacking and bribes; second, people impersonating police officers who have all the markings and equipment of being real police officers; and third, those driving in private cars pretending to be cops.
“In Gauteng, a motorist noticed that a uniformed police officer who stopped him wore takkies and this made him uncomfortable, so he drove to the nearest garage,” Burger said.
Truckers are urged to drive to the nearest police station if they doubt who is flagging them down.