Pretoria - Three men who were pretending to be Gauteng police officers were arrested in Lyttelton last week.
According to Tshwane SAPS spokesperson Johan van Dyk, the trio, who are yet to appear in court, were charged with robbery and impersonating police officers.
Van Dyk said the three armed men operated by stopping near their prospective victims while pretending to be police officers and then robbing them.
“They would tell the victims that they are police officers investigating a case and they need to see their cellphone to verify some information. They would then take the cellphone and place it in an envelope, however, it would be fake,” he said.
“The robbers then give the envelope back to the victim (with the fake phone inside) to open once the robbers are gone.”
He said that on Thursday the SAPS crime prevention unit patrolling the area spotted the suspects in a vehicle and apprehended them.
“They called for backup, stopped the suspects and searched the vehicle.The tools of their trade, fake cellphones and envelopes were discovered,” said Van Dyk.
“The detective services are currently busy linking several cases to these suspects and preliminary investigations established that the suspects were repeat offenders and had previously been arrested in the area for a similar crime.”
Incidents of suspects pretending to be cops have been rife in recent months. Earlier this year, the Hawks’ Tactical Operations Management Section arrested two truck hijackers impersonating Gauteng traffic officers near Atteridgeville in Pretoria West.
“Reports were received of a VW Polo and its inhabitants impersonating police officers and robbing victims of their cellphones,” the Hawks said at the time.
Last month, police arrested three men, aged between 36 and 43, for allegedly impersonating a police officer. The three allegedly robbed and hijacked people after threatening them while brandishing firearms.
Police spokesperson Colonel Adéle Myburgh said the men have been charged with possessing suspected stolen property and illegal firearms, theft, and robbery.
The arrests came after police received information of suspects driving a white Ford Ranger double cab bakkie, and possibly being involved in blue light hijackings and armed robberies.
“The vehicle was spotted in Potchefstroom and followed to Chief Albert Luthuli Street in Die Bult, where the team pounced on the unsuspecting suspects.
During the arrest, police discovered two firearms, a police uniform, a reflective jacket and other police equipment,” said Myburgh.
Their vehicle was equipped with a blue light and siren, as used in police vans.
“Initial investigations indicated that the vehicle, which was fitted with false number plates, was hijacked in Ivory Park, Tembisa.”