2nd Blue Light bandit being sought

Sherry Matthews Editor

November 12, 2013

Sampson County Sheriff’s officers are once again on the lookout for a potential blue light bandit, the second person in a month attempting to stop female drivers using blue and red flashing lights.

This time the incident happened in the southern end of the county, but it drew the same kind of warning from Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, who once again reminded individuals to remain cautious, only stopping for those known to be law enforcement.

The latest incident occurred Sunday night around 7:30 p.m. when the driver of an unknown vehicle attempted to stop a lone female driver on Union School Road.

“No one should ever stop for a blue light unless they are confident that the person trying to pull them over is a law enforcement officer,” Thornton has repeatedly urged. “Everyone has a cell phone these days; the best thing to do if a situation like that presents itself is to simply call 911 to determine if it is an officer behind you.”

In Sunday’s incident, the victim felt suspicious about the vehicle attempting to stop her and used precautions, much like Thornton has urged, turning on her emergency flashers and calling 911.

The 911 communications dispatcher, Sampson sheriff’s reports show, confirmed that the vehicle attempting to make the stop was not a sheriff’s deputy nor any other law enforcement officer.

Reports further show that the woman continued driving until both she and the vehicle following her reached U.S. 421. At that point, the suspicious vehicle stopped and the woman continued on her way without any further issue.

Because of the poor lighting conditions in the area, the victim was unable to provide a description of the vehicle or the person driving it.

Sunday’s incident brought a strong reminder from Thornton for residents to be careful, using a common sense approach when attempts are made to pull them over, noting that the best rule of thumb is doing exactly as the latest victim did — calling 911 dispatchers and turning on their hazard lights.

“If you call 911, communications will be able to tell you if that’s an officer behind you. Just don’t stop if you aren’t sure. No officer is going to give you a hard time if you drive to a well lit area before stopping. It’s what you need to do,” Thornton stressed.

Citizens who are suspicious of whether or not a vehicle is a legitimate law enforcement vehicle should turn on their hazard lights and proceed to that well-lit and populated area before stopping, the sheriff stressed in the release.

“It’s the kind of caution that is necessary in this day and time. People need to be aware. There are folks out there that are so brazen, they’ll do anything. It’s amazing and alarming,” Thornton reiterated.

The first incidents occurred in the Newton Grove area in mid-October. An arrest was made in those cases. In both incidents, attempts were made to stop female drivers who, like the latest victim, used their heads, refusing to stop for the suspicious vehicle.

Anyone with information on the Nov. 10 incident, the vehicle or a possible identity of the blue light bandit on is urged to call the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office at 910-592-4141.