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Updated September 21, 2010.

By Miriam Raftery

September 20, 2010 (Alpine) – A man driving near the intersection of Dehesa Road and Dehesa Ranch Road in Alpine around 11 p.m. last night told officials that he pulled over after seeing a flashing red light and a white spotlight behind him, Channel 10 News reports. Sheriff’s Lieutenant. Jim Duffy said the motorist claims that he was robbed at gunpoint after pulling over, believing he had been stopped by law enforcement.


The robber is described as a six-foot tall, 200-pound man wearing a black bandana over the lower portion of his face. He was armed with a black pistol and reportedly stole about $400 in cash. The thief allegedly drove a white Ford Crown Victoria, similar to vehicles used by many police agencies. However the red flashing light was mounted on the dashboard and the spotlight appeared to be attached on the driver’s side door.


The driver had reportedly been at Sycuan Casino. Lt. Brock with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department noted that the incident has not been confirmed and an investigation is ongoing, but noted that people have been known to call in false crimes before to cover up a gambling loss.


Paula Dickenson, crime prevention specialist at the Alpine Sheriff’s station, told ECM that local law enforcement vehicles have light bars mounted on the roof, not the dashboard, and would not have spotlights mounted on the door. If the incident occurred, it therefore appears that the vehicle involved is not currently in use by local law enforcement.  There are, however, "slick back" law enforcement vehicles that do have side lights that can be red or white. (Google "American Police Cars" for details).



The incident evokes memories of Cara Knott, a woman killed in 1984 by CHP officer Craig Peyer, who pulled her over for a traffic stop on a dark, isolated road.



Dickenson confirmed that although details of last night’s reported robbery haven’t been verified, the potential threat to safety of other motorists warrants notification to the public.


"The bottom line is, as you look at your rear view mirror, should you have any doubt of who is stopping you in a dark, secluded area at night, listen to what your gut is telling you. Drive (not speed) to a well lit area, (with people if possible) or call 9-1-1 on your cell phone to verify the law enforcement agency that is stopping you, " Dickensen advised.

Editor's note:  An earlier version of the story indicated that police cars do not have side lights.  Dickensen has since clarified that police cars in some areas do have red or white side-mounted lights, although CHP and local law enforcement vehicles typically have top-mounted light bars.

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