CEDAR RAPIDS IA July 18 2012 – A Cedar Rapids man has been arrested after he allegedly impersonated a police officer and told a woman she needed to get in his vehicle.
Robin T. Helgeson, 59, was taken into custody Sunday morning. Police said the woman did not get in the vehicle and was not harmed.
According to police, Helgeson was driving a black sport-utility vehicle around 10:30 a.m. when he pulled up to a 25-year-old woman carrying her infant child who was crossing the street near Mount Vernon Road and 15th Street SE.
“He just pulled up and said he was a police officer and she had to get in the car with him,” Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said. “She did the smart thing and said no.”
The woman walked away, and flagged down a police officer who was about a half-block away. The officer caught up to Helgeson’s vehicle, but Helgeson allegedly turned on his hazard lights and would not immediately pull over. He eventually stopped in the 900 block of 19th Street SE and was arrested.
According to a criminal complaint, Helgeson had “had firefighter and police stickers in his truck as well as caution tape.”
Helgeson told officers it was “all a misunderstanding,” according to the police report. Hamblin said police had received at least two reports in previous weeks of the same impersonation activity and the same vehicle, but had not located the suspect.
Hamblin said any non-uniformed police officers are trained to immediately identify themselves as a police officer and show a badge. If there is uncertainty, police recommend asking to see identification, the officer’s name or identification number. If they do not have identification, police say to get to a safe location and call police immediately with as many details as possible.
“We don’t have these very often, but we want people to use this as a learning tool,” Hamblin said.
Helgeson had been released from jail by Monday afternoon, a jail spokeswoman said.