CLEVELAND (WJW) — Over the past month, four motorists have been robbed at gunpoint by people posing as Cleveland police officers, Cleveland police reported. And now police are saying another incident took place Sunday evening.
The suspects, who are most times in a private and unmarked SUV, used red and blue strobe lights to pull over drivers, then approached their vehicles with firearms — including one robbery where an AK-47 was used — stealing their valuables and sometimes their cars. No injuries have been reported.
Here’s a summary of the incidents:
2:20 a.m., March 7: State Route 2 at West 45th Street exit
A 25-year-old driver was stopped by a suspect in what appeared to be a dark-colored Honda Accord, who used emergency-type lights to pull him over. The suspect stole his vehicle at gunpoint.
“Put your hands out the window,” “cut the car off,” “step out of the vehicle,” “back up with your hands above your head,” they told the victim. They all appeared to be younger men wearing black ski masks, the victim told police.
While one suspect searched the victim’s pockets, three others got out of the car and started searching the car, yelling “where’s the drugs at?” “where’s the money at?” and “where’s the weed?”
One was carrying three handguns; another had an AR pistol, according to the police report.
9:34 a.m., March 28: 152nd Street and Lakeshore Avenue
Suspects in a dark-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee stopped a man using emergency lights and robbed him at gunpoint.
The 24-year-old driver told police he was heading to meet with an unknown person in order to buy cell phones from him, according to a police report. He met the man in the 15000 block of Lakeshore Boulevard. The suspect was wearing a full face mask. He got into the man’s car, where there was another unknown man, also wearing a face mask.
The victim didn’t notice any cell phones for sale in the car and “began to think something was wrong.” Other suspects in the Jeep drove up with lights on and boxed in the car. A suspect pulled a gun on him and he got out of the vehicle and ran off, dropping his car keys. The suspects then drove away with his car.
9:55 p.m., March 31: 3200 block of West 65th Street
Suspects in a Volkswagen SUV used emergency lights to pull over a car and steal the occupants’ valuables at gunpoint, including a watch, cell phone, cash and IDs.
The victims, ages 42 and 23, told police they were robbed by four masked and “well-armed” suspects, who were wearing ballistic vests and carrying a 9-millimeter handgun, an AK-47, an automatic pistol and a shotgun.
On suspect ordered the 42-year-old driver to the ground and put a gun to his head. He took the man’s cell phone then ransacked his car, taking his ID. Other suspects forced the man’s passenger, his 23-year-old sister, to the ground and took $1,000 in cash from her.
“They said they were scared and petrified to death,” reads the report.
The suspects fled in their SUV and the victims followed them, and reported their location to emergency dispatchers, who told them to stop following the suspects for their safety.
3 a.m., April 1: 3000 block of West 48th Street
Suspects in a gray Kia Sportage pulled over a driver with emergency lights then stole their property and vehicle at gunpoint.
The 28-year-old victim told police the suspects’ vehicle followed him from the intersection of Clark Avenue and West 25th Street, according to a police report.
He pulled over after seeing oscillating lights in the windshield, then three men wearing ski masks and holding firearms approached him. One was carrying an AK-47 pistol; others had pistols with extended magazines and weapon-mounted lights. The victim said the suspects appeared to be between 15 years old and 23 years old.
The victim said he was unable to draw his firearm first. He was ordered out of the vehicle and made to lay face down on the ground. They took his firearm, then searched his car, which also had another firearm inside as well as his wallet containing $500 in cash and two cell phones.
The suspects drove off in his car, almost running him over while he was on the ground, according to the report. Police later recovered the car along West 41st Street, and the firearm inside.
6:20 p.m., April 2: Area of Broadway Avenue and Blanche Avenue
After warning people about four robberies, police are reporting what they believe to be an attempted robbery.
A male driver called 911 Sunday evening after a vehicle was following him and tried to pull him over using cop-like lights. The victim told police a suspect was wearing a ballistic vest and had a weapon.
The driver started heading toward the Third District police station and at that point the suspected vehicle drove in another direction.
Police said the two vehicles involved are a black Dodge Durango and a black Jeep Cherokee.
The robberies remain under investigation.
Anyone who is pulled over by an unmarked car and can’t tell if they have been pulled over by an actual police officer should call 911 and tell dispatchers.
Anyone with information on the crimes is urged to call Cleveland police at 216-621-1234. Anonymous tips can also be provided to Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME (216-252-7463).