Hertfordshire Police Detectives are investigating a report of a man impersonating a police officer in a bid to extort money from a woman have issued a warning to the public.
The incident happened near Aldi on Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, at approximately 1pm on Monday, December 6.
The female victim – who also had an adult male passenger – was driving in slow-moving traffic when she threw a cigarette from her window. A navy-coloured car pulled up alongside her and the driver, a man, indicated for her to pull over.
She did so but remained in her vehicle. The man got out of his vehicle and told the victim she needed to pay an on-the-spot fine for the offence of littering or her vehicle would be impounded.
At no point did the suspect properly identify himself as a police officer, and he was not wearing a uniform. However, during the incident, he made a call on his mobile phone to an unidentified person who told the victim that the suspect was a police officer.
The suspect then told the victim to move her vehicle to the car park outside the nearby Tesco Express, before getting into his vehicle and driving off in the direction of the roundabout junction with Swallowdale Lane. The victim did not see him again.
The suspect was described as white, aged around 30 years old and approximately 5ft 9in tall. He had stubble and wore a navy woollen hat.
Detective Inspector Jinesh Solankee, who leads the Dacorum Local Crime Unit, said: “This was an understandably alarming experience for the victim and my team and I are taking this report incredibly seriously, however, I want to reassure the public that we are not treating this incident as an attempted abduction.
“There is currently no evidence to suggest that abduction was the suspect’s intention, and at no time did he attempt to touch her or remove her from the car. We believe his motive was to extort money from the victim, but she did the right thing by staying in her vehicle and challenging him.
“A genuine police officer would properly identify themselves using a warrant card in this type of situation, but if you are still uncertain then please use your own mobile phone to call our Force Communications Room on 999. You can then verify the officer’s collar number with the call operator, who will be able to confirm that they are a serving officer with Hertfordshire Constabulary and are on duty at that time.
“Posing as a police officer is a serious offence and we are currently investigating several lines of enquiry in our efforts to identify this man. If you have been approached by someone in similar circumstances, please report it to us as soon as possible.
“It is also important to note that we would never request immediate cash payment for a fine. Instead, your details would be recorded at the roadside and a letter sent to you through the post stating a set period in which the fine must be paid – usually 14 or 28 days.”
You can report information online at herts.police.uk/report, talk to one of the Force Communication Room operators via web chat at herts.police.uk/contact, or call the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 41/95891/21.