SAN DIEGO - A Tierrasanta woman said she was driving home one evening when she noticed an unmarked dark sedan with flashing lights pulling over another driver, and she believed the situation did not look right.
"I noticed that the car had no markings on it at all and it was just pure black and the lights were on the inside," recalled Theresa Waning. "I just remember thinking to myself that I would have never pulled over for that car because it didn’t look like a police car to me."
A week later, Waning said a dark sedan with flashing lights and a siren blaring pulled up behind her on Interstate 15. She thought she was getting pulled over, but the car raced past her.
A few minutes later, a pickup truck with a camper on the back passed her by. It too had flashing police lights and a siren.
Waning posted her concerns on Facebook, and she said several friends voiced similar concerns. Her friend Glenn Zachman went one step further. The former news photographer began actively looking for police imposters.
Zachman thinks he may have found one along Interstate 5 near Del Mar Heights Road last Saturday night.
"A dark sedan had a vehicle pulled over and his lights up on his visor," Zachman said.
He noticed the lights were alternating red and blue, but police officers are supposed to have a steady, forward-facing red light when they pull people over.
Zachman called 911 to report the possible sighting, and the California Highway Patrol dispatched an officer. By the time the officer arrived, both cars were gone.
The CHP had no reports of any sort of police mishap related to the call.
CHP Officer Jake Sanchez told Team 10 that even though there have been no recent cases of police imposters pulling people over in San Diego County, it never hurts to take extra precautions if you have suspicions surrounding a police stop.
Sanchez said drivers should still slow down and begin pulling to the right. Turning on emergency flashers are a sign to the officer that you know you're being pulled over. Drivers are also advised to look for a well-lit place where there are other people around.
When the officer gets out of the car, drivers are advised to check to make sure he or she is in uniform. If the officer is in jeans and a T-shirt, "That's a totally different story," said Sanchez.
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a police officer, Sanchez recommends calling 911. He said calling 911 from behind the wheel to report an emergency will not result in a ticket.