TAMPA, Fla. — A 26-year-old Tampa man was arrested for impersonating a police officer.
"Our officers were notified by FHP of a suspicious vehicle that had pulled somebody over in a suspicious vehicle," Eddy Durkin with Tampa Police said.
On Saturday morning, authorities received reports of a suspicious SUV with red and blue lights in the area of New Tampa and Bruce B Downs boulevards. That same morning, Florida Highway Patrol had gotten a report that a man pretending to be a cop – and also driving an SUV – had taken a gun from somebody on Interstate 75.
A real Tampa PD officer spotted a 2020 gray Range Rover, matching the description, on Bruce B Downs Boulevard.
"The suspect, later identified as John Inglis, had activated flashing red and blue lights, pulled over the victims, approached their vehicle, and asked for their driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance," TPD wrote in an email.
Police say when Inglis saw the real officer walking up, he handed back the documents to the person he'd pulled over and began walking back to his SUV.
He was arrested before he could go anywhere, authorities said, and his SUV was seized. Inside the car, police say they found a gun consistent with the type stolen earlier.
The man who was pulled over by Inglis was in the car with his wife and three kids. He spoke exclusively to 10 Tampa Bay's Angelina Salcedo. He doesn't want to be named for his safety.
"It just didn't look right. I was trying to be careful about how I dealt with him," he said.
His suspicions turned out to be true. He said he was concerned once he saw Inglis walking towards his window.
"Right away things didn't look right. We noticed he was wearing a backwards baseball cap and he got out. He was in a t-shirt shorts and flip-flops. He was just kind of authoritative like police and said driver's license, insurance and registration," he said.
Once Inglis verified his information he went to his car, but Tampa Police wasn't far behind.
"I had looked in my side view mirror and I could see the police there with their guns out. I've been pulled over before, but I've never been in a situation where the police were all over with their guns out taking somebody down," he said.
Inglis was charged with false personation, impersonating a police officer, unlawful use of blue light and grand theft of a firearm.
Investigators say they later learned Inglis had already been issued a Risk Protection Order, so he was charged for violating that, as well.
While Tampa police say situations like this are rare, they did offer tips for what to do if you fear the person pulling you over is a fake cop:
- Look for a safe place to pull over
- Signal your intent and slow down (activate your hazard lights)
- Call 911 to confirm it is an officer; be sure to provide the call-taker with your location, vehicle description and license plate
- Keep your doors locked while the dispatcher checks
- Ask the officer for their name and badge number and confirm the information with 911