PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Police in Pine Bluff are looking for two men suspected of breaking into several trucks and stealing construction gear, with one even impersonating a police officer.
"When someone pretends to be a law enforcement officer who's not, and takes advantage of that public trust, we take that very seriously," said Sgt. Richard Wegner, the public information officer for the Pine Bluff Police Department. "When our plainclothes officers expose a badge and an ID and use the words 'I'm a police officer,' we need the public to believe them when they make that statement."
The department said the two men were seen on surveillance cameras inside the temporary Saracen Casino annex Tuesday.
A person reported approaching one of the men as he appeared to be going through a bag in the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot. That's when the witness said he flashed what appeared to be a badge and said he was a Pine Bluff police officer.
"It appears that he used it as a tactic to persuade someone who was checking in on his activities to disregard what he was doing," Sgt. Wegner said.
According to police, the two men left together in what appears to be a dark-colored Chevrolet extended cab truck.
Detectives dug a little deeper and noticed a pattern of other break-ins nearby. The hotels around the Pines Mall are packed nightly with construction workers and their pick-ups building the permanent casino resort across the street. Those trucks are often filled with expensive tools and equipment they can't always take inside.
"I understand that workers they do the same thing over and over on a repetitive basis. They put their tools in their trucks, they go to work, they use their tools, they put them back in the truck, they return to wherever it is they're staying. It kind of becomes a routine," said Sgt. Wegner who said thieves take advantage of that routine.
There are no reports of the man using the fake badge in any other way, but they are using it as an opportunity to remind everybody, especially at this time of year, lock up your valuables whether you're at home or at a hotel.
"We would ask anybody, once you park your truck, if you can't take your bag of tools into your hotel or you can't take them into your home or whatever it is, at least lock them in the cab," said Sgt. Wegner. "Try to put some level of security between the thief and your property."
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Detective Division at (870) 730-2090 or dispatch at (870) 541-5300.
Also, there is a reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the two suspects.