x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Driver 'fined' Dh 20,000 by bogus policeman who drove off in victim's car

Five arrested for impersonating officers after men dressed in police uniforms tricked dozens into handing over cash and cars.

AJMAN // Police have charged five men with impersonating police officers in Ajman after dozens of people were tricked into handing over thousands of dirhams in fraudulent fines. One person was "fined" Dh22,000 by a man posing as a police officer, who then drove away in his victim's car, telling him that it had been confiscated.

The impersonator, who was dressed in a police uniform, gestured for the driver to pull over before telling him that he was driving in breach of traffic laws and that his car was on a wanted list. The victim handed over the cash and was told to visit the police station to arrange for the return of the car. However, when he arrived at the police station, he was told there was no record of the incident or his car being listed on any wanted list.

The case involving the five men, who are all aged between 30 and 40 and of Arab origin, has been referred to the Public Prosecution. It follows a spate of similar cases in the emirate. In a similar incident, a man impersonating a policeman knocked on the door of an Ajman resident and told him that he had orders to impound his Toyota Land Cruiser parked in the street, before driving it away. A third case involved two men posing as police arrived unannounced at a commercial building and told managers they were in breach of fire safety regulations. They then demanded the staff pay "fines".

The most violent incident involved a man in police uniform visiting an accommodation block where workers were on strike before attacking a number of people and ordering them to return to work. Police officials said there had been a 70 per cent drop in the number of reported incidents of civilians posing as law enforcement officers during the first six months of 2010, compared to the same period last year. They did not offer any explanation of how their strategy had differed to pervious years.

Five people have been arrested in such cases so far this year, down from 17 people in the first half of last year. Col Sheikh Sultan bin Abdullah al Nuaimi, the deputy director of Ajman Police, said the issue continued to be a concern. He said: "When you look at this year's cases, it's almost 70 per cent down. But what we want is a 100 per cent safety of residents and our team is continuing to work hard to eliminate this crime."

In none of the recent cases did any of the men posing as police produce identification, said Col al Nuaimi. One resident of Anjam Industrial Area, who wished to remain anonymous, said two men came to his property last year pretending to be police officers. He said: "They wanted to search for some illegal items, but their actions, their confidence and the way they talked Arabic gave me the impression they were police.

"But a colleague insisted they show us identification papers and this is how we managed to have them arrested." Ahmed al Hanoori, an Emirati who owns a service uniform shop in Ajman's industrial area, said anyone who wanted to buy a uniform must first show identification. "For me, I have never sold a uniform to a non-policeman, but this is a free market economy, so there may be some shops that sell these uniforms," he said.

ykakande@thenational.ae