Road traffic crime has been around for many years. While we are the first to tell you to lock your cars and keep valuables out of sight, criminals are taking a new approach to stopping cars!
Essex police have been warning motorists to not stop for vans or plain vehicles that drive with blue flashing lights. There have been a number of vehicle thefts by so called unmarked police vehicles in the past few weeks. These fake traffic police have been based in Essex, but fears are circulating that they will start to operate in parts of London as well as other parts of the UK.
Cars have started to be pulled over by vans with flashing blue lights. Unsuspecting and well meaning drivers who didn’t know pulled up to the side of the road. The criminals would then make drivers get out of their vehicles, which were then promptly stolen.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Smith who is in charge of the investigation said about the criminal activities: “In response to these incidents happening, a directive has been issued to each of our officers that they should not conduct their duties in an unmarked vehicle. Unless there is an emergency.”
He also went on to say: “We took this decision to keep motorists in Essex safe while these offenders are still out there. The victims have reported that the suspects are acting as police officers and are wearing body armour. Everything about the act is made to look as genuine as possible”.
Just a few weeks ago, on the 23rd July, a white Mercedes Sprinter van was the latest vehicle to be stolen. It was pulled over on the M11 by four suspects in an unmarked silver Ford Mondeo. It was said that one of them was carrying a firearm.
Just two days later on the 25th July, three men in a silver Mondeo stopped a grey Volkswagen Transporter van on the M25. This time there were no weapons, but one of the men did have a pair of handcuffs.
So far it’s not known if the same three men were responsible for both the crimes or if there is a larger group at work. In each case, the victims did not see the registration number of the Mondeo. Luckily, none of the victims were hurt in either incident.
DCI Smith has urged anyone who is asked to stop by an unmarked vehicle to call 999 immediately. Keep the windows and doors closed and use a mobile phone to call the police. Seeing you on the phone to the police may put the perpetrators off from continuing with the theft. If you are worried, you can keep driving to a busier area before stopping. But once again, you are under no obligation to open the doors, windows or indeed to leave your vehicle if you are doubt.
The police have requested that anyone with any information on the incidents call the police on their non-emergency line 101.