SARASOTA, Florida -- It's a bad feeling: the red and blue lights of law enforcement in your rear view mirror. But imagine if the officers stopping you were not officers at all. That's what happened to a Sarasota family over the weekend.
"Anyone that would intentionally lead others the think they're law enforcement personnel would be very concerning to us," said Captain Paul Richard of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Patrol Bureau.
Captain Richard said the men dressed in sheriff's office t-shirts at first looked and sounded real to the family they pulled over.
"Their car was equipped with some type of strobe fashion light that would lead others to believe that they would be some type of emergency vehicle, and they had some clothing that indicated they were law enforcement officers, and it was reported to us as well they were armed with firearms," said Richard.
The three black males that appeared to be in their 20's or 30's took the driver to the ground, wielding two wooden stock shotguns and a gold semi-automatic handgun with a black grip. But when a second victim, a female in the car, was ordered out of the vehicle, she noticed some front end damage. She told the three fake deputies their police car didn't look legit and they took off.
Pablo Esteban lives in a neighborhood filled with kids across the street from where the couple was stopped. He worries it could happen again.
"It could be potentially dangerous if they pull over a family," said Esteban. "I mean, I don't know what these people's intentions were, but it obviously wasn't good."
Sarasota County sheriff's deputies urge anyone with information on the case to contact the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at 941-861-4900. Those who wish to remain anonymous can provide tips through the Crime Stoppers line at 941-366-TIPS (8477).
The sheriff's office said motorists who are concerned about being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle should call 911 to let the call taker know what is going on. Give your location and they can confirm if you are being pulled over by a legitimate law enforcement officer, and if you are not, dispatch units to that location immediately.
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