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Catawba County officials searching for man who they accuse of impersonating a police officer

Investigators said the man is driving a dark SUV with blue lights on the windshield.

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — The Catawba County Sheriff's Office and Hickory Police are searching for a man who they accuse of impersonating a law enforcement officer and pulling over two women in a 24-hour span.

According to deputies, a high school-aged girl was driving along Little Mountain Road in Sherrills Ford Wednesday around 6:50 a.m. when she was stopped by someone who looked like a law enforcement officer. 

Deputies said the man's appearance and demeanor led the girl to believe he was impersonating an officer. 

According to the sheriff's office, the man let the teenager go after she asked him to show his badge and identify his agency.

She later reported the incident to her school resource officer. 

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Hickory Police said around 3:30 a.m. Thursday, the same man pulled over a woman driving on Highway 321.

The woman shared her experience with WCNC Charlotte though she asked not to be identified because she feared for her safety.

"He made me get out of the truck, told me to walk around the front, and put my hands around back like grabbing the bumper, and I kept trying to turn around to see what he was doing because he was searching the truck," the woman said. "He said that he smelled alcohol, and I said, 'Sir, I don’t drink.'"

The woman said she doesn't drink because she has stage 4 cancer. 

She said as the man continued searching her truck, she asked if she could use her cell phone.

"He said, 'I'm the one asking questions around here. You just shut the hell up and stay where I put you,'" she explained.

She said the suspect drove off with her wallet, which had nearly $800 in rent money and all of her identification cards.

"He took my sense of security away to where I have to put chairs in front of my door," she said. "I'm afraid because he knows where I live."

Investigators said in both incidents, the man was wearing what appeared to be a law enforcement-style uniform with a firearm and other law enforcement-type equipment.

Detectives said the suspect's uniform had no badge on it.

According to deputies, the suspect drove an unmarked black SUV-type vehicle with blue lights on its front windshield.

The suspect is believed to be a white man, in his 30s, around five feet, eight inches tall, with a long, dark beard. 

Anyone who has either interacted with or seen this person is asked to call (828) 464-3112.  

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The sheriff's office offered the following tips if a person believes they're being stopped by a law enforcement impersonator:

  1. Turn your vehicle's emergency flashers on and continue driving at a slower speed while attempting to pull over in a well-lit, populated area.
  2. Ask the person to provide a photo ID and the name of their agency.

  3. Pay attention to the person's clothing

  4. Request another officer to respond to the traffic stop

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