CHICAGO (CBS) – A cop impersonator and his getaway driver robbed people in at least six incidents in the Southwest Side Little Village neighborhood, say police, who are asking for the public’s help.

In each case, a victim was approached by one or two people who represented themselves as police officers and took their money, according to a community alert from Harrison Area detectives.

One cop impersonator has been seen wearing a blue sweater or vest and a chain around his neck with an attached silver-colored badge. One also has been seen wearing what appears to be a bullet-proof vest. He also is carrying a police type hand-held radio, flashlight and handgun, the alert said.

The robberies happened between 8 p.m. and midnight at the following locations: Jan. 14 in the 4100 block of W. 25th Place; Jan. 6 in the 2700 block of South Kenneth Avenue; Jan. 5 in the 3000 block of South Pulaski; Dec. 23, 2010 in the 2500 block of South Kedvale; Dec. 19, 2010 in the 2700 block of South Springfield Avenue; and Dec. 18, 2010 in the 2700 block of South Avers Avenue. Most of the victims were approached in alleys when parking their cars.

“Nobody thinks about it.  They’ve heard stories, but you never realize that things like this would happen,” the nephew of one of the victims robbed this week told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot. He asked not to be identified.

The main offender is described as a Hispanic man between 20 and 25, 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-8 tall and 150 pounds. The second offender is possibly the driver of the getaway car. He is a Hispanic man between 30 and 38, 5-foot-8, 180 to 190 pounds, the alert said.

Lt. Jeri Winsberg, 10th District Watch Commander, says the cop impersonator has approached victims, telling them they’ve been involved in a crime or accident. The fake officer searches them, examines their wallets and removes the money inside before returning the wallets.

Police say you have the right to ask to see a badge and a department-issued identification. The officer’s face will always have a hologram of a police star over it. The word CAPS is also clearly seen.

 “We want to catch them,” Winsberg said. “They’re preying on innocent people, and it’s just not right for somebody to pretend to be the police.  We’re out there to protect you, not to victimize you.” 

The vehicles used in the robberies are described as a red Chevrolet Lumina or Monte Carlo with gray on the trunk and a white Chevrolet Suburban.

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call detectives at (312) 746-9253.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire

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