Hunt on for bogus Nth Island cops

The hunt is on for four police impostors who have been stopping cars in Northland and questioning motorists about the amount of cash they are carrying.

A team of detectives was yesterday investigating two incidents in which men in a red car had stopped motorists and pretended they were police officers as they searched vehicles and questioned motorists about how much money they had.

The latest report came on Sunday when a red vehicle described as a Holden Commodore with flashing red and blue lights stopped a motorist on Otaika Rd, near the information centre, just south of Whangarei.

The registration plate of the red car was thought to have ended in 506.

Head of the Whangarei/Kaipara police area Inspector Tracy Phillips said four men in plain clothes were in the car.

One of them got out and showed some form of identification before searching the boot for alcohol, telling the driver it was a liquor ban area.

Ms Phillips said the man asked the female driver for her identification and questioned her about the amount of money she had in her possession. When the woman started to question the validity of the stop the men made an excuse that they had another job to attend and sped off.

Ms Phillips said a legitimate officer would not ask how much cash a person had on them.

It is the second incident involving a red car with men posing as police officers.

The first incident was early on February 9 and involved a vehicle, described as a red Mazda.

"We are treating this very seriously and doing all we can to track these people down," Ms Phillips said.

"Most police stops are conducted by staff in uniform in marked cars.

"If police officers are not in uniform then, if asked, they will produce identification which contains a name, photograph and police identification number.

"People have the right to challenge and ask for an officer's name and personal identification number."

She urged anyone who had suspicions about an officer's validity to request a name and ring 111 to confirm they were a sworn police officer.

Police are worried the actions of the quartet will jeopardise the reputation of police. An urgent appeal has been issued to anyone with information about the bogus officers.

People found guilty of impersonating a police officer can face a maximum of 12 months' jail, a maximum fine of $15,000, or both.

Police would like to hear from anyone with information about similar incidents on 09 430 4500 or call Crimestoppers, 0800 111 555.

- Kristin Edge of the Northern Advocate

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