MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man who was reportedly impersonating a police officer, complete with flashing lights on top of his car, stopped a driver Saturday but was soon busted after a real Miami officer stopped to provide back-up.
Ruben Yepes-Quiroz, 31, pretended to be a police officer when he pulled over a car on Southwest 60th Avenue and 8th Street just after 3 a.m., according to police.READ MORE: Officials: Man On American Airlines Flight From Guatemala Hitched Ride To Miami Inside Plane's Landing Gear
A Miami Police officer saw the traffic stop and stopped with intentions to provide back-up to a fellow officer which led to Yepes-Quiroz’s arrest.
Two of the fake cop’s victims spoke out to CBS4. They said that Yepes-Quiroz scared them and they are glad he is behind bars. The arrest has also prompted a safety alert.
“We are asking anyone who recognizes this persons and who thinks he might have tried to pull you over to call the police or Crime Stoppers,” said Miami police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes.
Yepes-Quiroz was charged with prohibited use of lights and falsely impersonating a police officer, which is a 3rd degree felony.
“I saw his face and I was scared,” said Rodrigo Prado, who was stopped early Saturday with two friends while driving his red Pontiac. “I thought I was going to get arrested. Now I am glad this police impersonator is behind bars. You can not do this.”
“We saw the lights and just waited inside our car. I thought he was undercover,” said Prado. “We just stayed in our car for 10 minutes.”
According to an arrest report obtained by CBS4, it was around 3 a.m. when an officer observed a yellow scion with blue and red flashing lights on its passenger visor.
The report said the driver of that vehicle, Yepes-Quiroz, had stopped Prado and his friends Guillermo Montoya and Giovani Jesus Roman.
“I thought he was a police officer. His lights were on. I didn’t think about it,” said Prado.
“We thought he was a detective,” Montoya told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “Now it turns out he was a fraud. This is crazy. I didn’t think twice at first. I thought he really was a cop. And I was scared too. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Now I am glad he was arrested. This should never happen to anyone.”
Montoya said, “This is really, really ridiculous.”
“We were really scared when police told us about all the phones in his car,” said Montoya. “We believe he robbed a lot of people.”
“We know he had some wallets and other people’s billfolds,” said Prado. “I bet he’s been doing that for awhile.”
Miami Police are trying to determine if Yepes-Quiroz targeted other people.
According to the report, a police officer immediately stepped in when he saw what was happening at the intersection.
Yepes-Quiroz, according the report, said he pulled over the Pontiac because the men inside the car caused a disturbance at Kopas restaurant at 5757 S.W. 8th St. where he works as a security guard.
Yepes-Quiroz also said he stopped the vehicle because its tag was covered with a rag. Prado said they stopped because they thought Yepes-Quiroz was a cop.
Yepes-Quiroz told police that he was a retired officer and that’s why he had lights on his visor. He said he used to be a police explorer in 2000 in the Hammocks area.
The report also states that, “He also works for Telemundo and uses the blue and red lights for scenes and movies.”
Police confiscated items from Yepes-Quiroz’s car, including five cell phones, ipods, a camera and an ipad and two badges. One of those badges said “Concealed Weapons permit.”
Police say the arrest of Yepes-Quiroz serves as a warning. If you don’t trust a plain clothes officer who is stopping you, you can call 911. Ask to see a badge. Ask where the officer works and if you can call a dispatch center to confirm an identity.
Authorities say you should stay in your car and lock your doors. Be suspicious if someone asks you to get out of your car without asking any preliminary questions. You should also try to stop in a well-lit area or a place where there are a lot of people present.MORE NEWS: Boca Raton Man Faces Charges In Fatal Crash That Killed Homestead Mom, Daughter On Thanksgiving Eve
If you think you recognize Yepes-Quiroz and think he may have tried to pull you over, call Miami Police or Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at (305) 471-tips (8477).