NewsLocal News


Thomas County deputies search for couple accused of impersonating law enforcement

Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 18:46:04-04

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — Thomas County Sheriff's Office is asking everyone to be vigilant after two people are accused of pretending to be law enforcement and trying to stop a driver.

A police report states a man was pulled over just after 9 p.m. April 6. He told deputies a light-colored SUV with a push guard activated blue and white lights on Highway 319. The man says he pulled over on Hall Road.

That complaint goes on to say a white man, about 6'3" walked to the driver's side, while a Hispanic woman stayed near the back of his truck. The man said neither person ever gave their name or agency, nor did any have only a badge on their belt but no other identifying markings.

That man says the person impersonating an officer initially said he stopped the man because his tint was too dark and his truck's exhaust was too loud. He went into questions about the truck and items inside it, including money.

The report goes on to say the unknown man and woman walked back to their car and left. The person who filed the report says he came straight to the Sheriff's Office to report the situation "because nothing felt right".

Law enforcement confirmed no traffic stops were reported for that area and the car and clothing didn't match any agency. They then issued a BOLO (Be On the Look Out).

Captain Steve Jones with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office said this is the first case of police impersonation they have worked on in several years.

"I've never seen one where there were a male and a female. So their intent, what was their intent? It could've been robbery, it could've been just out for fun," he said.

Thomasville resident Jacob Costillo said it's a scary situation because if he saw flashing lights, he would stop.

"We've been taught not to question authority. If someone pulls up with a badge, you give them everything they ask for and you don't question it," said Costillo.

Now Thomas County Deputies say it's okay to question the stop. If you're stopped by an officer, it's best to turn on your flashers and continue driving until you reach a well-lit area, preferably one with people nearby. You can also call 9-1-1 to verify the legitimacy of the stop.

"The ways the guys here are trained, you want to give out your location, your vehicle description and tag before initiating your lights. That way if something goes bad fast, dispatch already has that information," said Captain Jones.

There are about 30 unmarked cars with the Sheriff's Office. However, those rarely make traffic stops.

"Our unmarks are not supposed to unless they're working a special investigation. All of our cars that we drive on patrol are well-marked vehicles," said Captain Jones.

It's also unlikely you'll be stopped by an officer not wearing a uniform or identifiable markings.

"If you don't see the patches on the shoulder, the badge, and a name tag, it may or may not be an officer so use caution," he said.

Thomas County has reached out to neighboring agencies for similar reports. So far none have been filed. Detectives do fear more people could have been stopped unknowingly. If you have had a suspicious encounter, Thomas County Sheriff's Office says to call them at (229) 225-3315.