Easy-to-install fake police lights are readily available online for less than $50, The Newsroom has found.
Red and blue lights, similar to those used in unmarked police vehicles and on the top of marked ones, can be bought for $43 and be delivered within two to three weeks.
Coreen Mechielsen from Melbourne’s south-east told The Newsroom she was driving on the South Gippsland Highway in July when a car “flew up” behind her. Thinking it was a police car, she went to pull over but after realising it was an imitation; she took off.
“What did they want, what would they have done if I had pulled over? Did they want to steal the car? Rob me? Or worse?”
“It was a terrible feeling at the time especially with all the reports of this nature with people that actually follow through with worse crimes once the innocent driver thinks they are doing the right thing and pulls over,” Ms Mechielsen said.
She added that while the people in the car may have been doing it for fun, she failed to see how anyone else would have realised that.
Customers gave the lights an average rating of 4 out of 5 on the website selling them, which The Newsroom has chosen not to identify.
One reviewer said it “freaks people out”.
Another said: “I love these lights…a lot of fun…I just hope that if I get caught having fun with this, I don’t end up in jail.”
The emergency lights, which have 12 different flashing settings, shouldn’t be so easy to buy, Ms Mechielsen said.
“They are meant to be illegal, well, that was the impression I have always been under, you can get flashing toys, etc, but they normally have another colour in them so people can’t use them for that purpose,”
“The police force needs to be more proactive about imitation,” she said.
Acting Senior Sergeant Kris Hamilton told The Newsroom the use of flashing lights to impersonate police is rare.
“Having said that, in the event a person is caught deliberately attempting to impersonate a police officer or trick someone into thinking their car is a police vehicle for the purpose of ill intent…will be dealt with by police,” he said.
“If you are signaled to pull over by a car fitted with police lights and you suspect the circumstances to be dodgy – drive to your closest police station and report the matter with as much detail as possible,” Acting Senior Sergeant Hamilton said.
He added that Victoria Police will investigate anyone selling police equipment online. If you have information about a crime that’s been committed, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or fill out a form online. – Matthew Male
Photo of police car by Matthew Male, photo of flashing lights supplied