“Police officer. You’re under arrest. Get down on the ground. Police officer,” the man yelled as he shoved his hand into his coat pocket as though to show he was armed.
His other hand held a cell phone and he appeared to be talking into it as he ran along just behind the passing bicyclist. This man was seen walking around Slappey Boulevard and Eighth Avenue near Woodall’s Convenience store about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7.
But the bicyclist was really a potential robbery victim. The bicyclist realized he had seen no badge and the man seemed to favor staying in the dark area just off the sidewalk. Maybe this “police officer” was not really who he said he was.
The bicyclist assumed the worst and kept riding until he reached the well-lit parking lot in the next block at Woodall’s. Then he stopped and looked back, wondering if this person would come into the lights and show a badge. The bicyclist was not going to run from the police. But the other man turned at that moment, walking quickly off into the shadows across the street, around the corner, and he was gone. It was at that moment the bicyclist knew he had almost been robbed, or worse.
“No, we’ve had no reports of similar incidents,” a real Albany police officer said at Woodall’s. This is probably not a new trap sprung by a potential thief, but it is one con that is easy for the unwary to believe. You would expect to see a badge, but the impersonator does everything the same way a police officer would, except for showing identification as representing the Albany Police Department.
The safe thing to do, at night, is proceed to a well-lit area with people nearby Daytime: Grocery storey parking lot, fast-food restaurant, or any busy location where you and a potential robber would be visible to others.
If you have been approached by anyone making the claim of being a police officer who refuses to show identification, call the Albany Police Department and report the incident. If you suspect you’re being conned or feel it is an emergency situation, the 911 operator can confirm the presence of a police officer.
Written by By Phil Hennin. Phil Hennin is an Albany freelance writer.