HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A Houston resident has been arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer. Police say he robbed several people at multiple locations -- victims who believed he was the real deal.
At least nine different people in the north Houston area were robbed as a result of this scheme.
“Basically, this individual was going up to mostly male victims pretending to be a police officer,” said Houston Police Department spokesman Alejandro Carmona. “He would come up with a different kind of story, would get in their vehicle, take them for a ride and rob them.”
Police say 42-year-old Alvaro Javier Hidalgo would take between 200-to-300 dollars during each robbery.
“A couple of the victims told us he cooperated with them because they thought he was a police officer,” said HPD spokeswoman Carol Calabro.
Hidalgo was targeting Hispanic males, according to HPD. The victims simply wanted to follow the orders of a man they believed was an officer. He showed them a fake badge, was wearing a Motorola radio and a reflective vest to play the part the best that he could.
“The first incident, he pretended to have vehicle problems and asked the victim to help him," explained Carmona. "The victim said as he looked into the hood the suspect pointed the weapon at him.”
“For us, if we come over here to the corner store and we’re trying to pump gas, and someone comes out of nowhere and does that to us, we’re just going to go with the flow,” said Flex, a north Houston resident.
Several people spoke with FOX 26 News outside some of the fuel stations where the robberies were reported. They said it is scary to know that they could be tricked in a matter of seconds.
What are some ways to handle a suspicious situation with an officer who approaches you?
“Talk to the officer,” reminded Carmona. “If they start asking for requests that you think might be a little absurd, it’s OK to ask, 'Where do you work? Who is the supervisor?'”
You always have the right to ask for identification from someone who identifies himself or herself as a law enforcement officer. Police said Hidalgo was caught after he dropped his own credit card at a crime scene.
“And another witness was able to write down the license plate,” said Calabro.
Hidalgo is charged with three counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Police are still processing the other seven cases they said he was involved in, for which there is a possible accomplice. The investigation is ongoing.