CARBON COUNTY — State police in Carbon County are on the lookout for a man they said impersonated a police officer.
Troopers said last week, a man who had a fake badge, demanded a woman’s license and registration. When she refused to hand them over, state police said the fake cop pulled out a silver revolver and the woman drove to safety.
“If it’s just a single light or anything that doesn’t look like the high intensity strobe lights that any police car has anymore, that should be your first signal,” said Wilkes-Barre Police Lt. Steve Olshefski.
Olshefski said folks can buy fake badges and uniforms, even flashing lights, so drivers need to beware.
Last week, Charles Zehel of Scranton was arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer.
Investigators said he pretended he was a cop when he pulled over a motorcyclist along the Casey Highway in Olyphant, Lackawanna County.
After his arrest, police said they found a loaded weapon, flashing lights and other police items in Zehel’s vehicle.
Wilkes-Barre Township police are investigating after a woman said she was pulled over along Highland Park Blvd in the city last month by a fake cop.
“You really don’t know what’s real, per se. My friend’s mom got pulled over once and we thought it was a fake cop. We couldn’t tell. We really couldn’t,” said Jarret Colvin of Stroudsburg.
“I think that’s really scary. I think people need to pay attention when they’re being pulled over. If you’re being pulled over in the middle of nowhere and you don’t see people or lights, go somewhere else. Don’t stop there,” said Danielle Shunk, a Wilkes University student.
Police said that is exactly what drivers should do.
“If the person is not sure and has a cell phone, and most people do, just dial 911 and they can instantly tell you by your location if you are being pulled over by a legitimate police officer,” said Lt. Olshefski.
If you do not have a cell phone, Lt. Olshefski said put on your flashers and continue to drive until you are in a well-lit or populated location, or someplace you feel safe like a police or fire station before stopping.
There is protection in the law that allows for drivers to continue to drive away from police officers, at a safe speed, if they feel their safety is a concern.