Antigonish man arrested for impersonating officer while driving fake police car
Police believe the suspect may have tried to pull over other cars, and are asking for any tips from the public
January 21, 2021, 5:16 pm ASTLast Updated: January 21, 2021, 5:16 pm
An Antigonish man has been arrested for impersonating a police officer after allegedly driving a mock police car across the province.
According to an RCMP news release, the 23-year-old man was arrested at a residence in Antigonish on Tuesday, where police seized a white 2013 Ford Taurus.
The police said in a release they received several complaints of an “unmarked police vehicle” on the roads between Halifax and Antigonish, which matched the description of the suspect’s car.
The three complaints came from the same area on Jan. 6, 10, and 18, said Cpl. Mark Skinner, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia RCMP.
One of the complaints described the vehicle as tailgating and driving aggressively.
Skinner said there is nothing to suggest the suspect wanted to look like an RCMP officer specifically, but potentially he wanted to “create the air of authority.”
There were no guns or police uniforms in the seized vehicle, Skinner said. The suspect does not have a previous criminal history or record with the police, he added.
Suspect’s vehicle was outfitted with police-like equipment
Skinner said their investigation so far has confirmed the 2013 Ford Taurus was a decommissioned police vehicle the suspect purchased from a car dealer in the general area. Ford Taurus are still used by police forces across Nova Scotia.
The suspect’s vehicle had several add-ons, including white reflective striping on both sides; dashboard equipment of a microphone and toggle system used for operating lights and sirens; two large antennas on the roof; a light bar installed across the back window; a black push bar mounted on the grill; and orange-coloured LED lights.
While some of this equipment can be found on or in police vehicles, Skinner identified three key differences.
White reflective striping is only found on marked RCMP vehicles, not unmarked. Orange lights are not found only police vehicles, only red and blue. And a black push bar is not common on police vehicles in Nova Scotia.
The RCMP only released one photo of the car in this case because the suspect allegedly had an unrelated crash with a deer over the weekend, damaging the front of the Ford.
Before a former police vehicle is sold, any police modifications, upgrades, or equipment are entirely removed, Skinner said.
First court date set, police still looking for information
Police released the man from custody on conditions. He will appear before the Antigonish provincial court on March 24.
While Skinner said none of the three complaints describe the vehicle attempting to pull over cars, police believe there may be unreported pullover attempts in the same area between Halifax and Antigonish.
“We believe based on our investigation that he may have done this, and hopefully the general public can let us know,” he said.
The Mounties are asking the public to report any sightings or knowledge of incidents with this vehicle by calling the Antigonish detachment at (902) 863-6500.
Replica RCMP cruiser used in Portapique tragedy
The situation unfortunately brings the Portapique massacre to mind.
Gabriel Wortman, who was responsible for the N.S. mass shooting last spring, owned four Ford Taurus. They were all decommissioned police vehicles sold through auction, according to a news release at that time.
During the shooting across April 18 and 19, Wortman wore a mock RCMP uniform and travelled across the province in a Ford Taurus made into a replica RCMP cruiser. He killed 22 people at different locations.
Skinner said that although Portapique was a significant event, RCMP impersonations in his recollection “living, working in the province, [are] very few and far between.”
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