‘FAKE cop tried to snatch schoolgirl’: Police arrest man, 32, on suspicion of kidnap and posing as an officer after cyclist in high-viz jacket stopped 14-year-old in street and searched her’
- Man wearing a yellow hi-vis top ‘approached schoolgirl’ in Crawley, West Sussex
- Girl, 14, was ‘forced off road and had her clothing searched’ but was unharmed
- Sussex Police said a 32-year-old man has since been arrested for impersonation of officer and attempted kidnap and remains in custody at present
A man who posed as a police officer has been arrested on suspicion of trying to kidnap a young schoolgirl.
Sussex Police say a man, who was wearing a yellow hi-visbility jacket, approached a 14-year-old girl in Crawley, West Sussex before cycling off on Wednesday, October 13 at 8am.
The teenager was ‘forced off the road and had her clothing searched’, but is unharmed and is receiving support from specialist officers.
A 32-year-old was yesterday arrested on suspicion of kidnap and impersonating a police officer. He remains in custody at this time.
West Sussex Police Superintendent Marc Clothier said: ‘We understand that this arrest will impact communities.
‘We want to reassure people we have not received any similar reports at this time and there is no current risk to anyone in the community in relation to this case.
‘You will see more uniformed patrols in the area, and we encourage you to stop and talk to us if you have any concerns.
‘If you do see any behaviour that causes you concern, please always call 999 right away.’
A man who posed as a police officer in Crawley, West Sussex has been arrested [File image]
A Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘It was just after 8am on Wednesday when a 14-year-old girl, on her way to school, was approached by a man wearing a yellow hi-vis jacket, who took her to an adjacent area off the road and searched her clothing before cycling off.
‘Following police inquiries and further information, a 32-year-old local man was detained in the town at 11.15am on Thursday 14 October.
‘He was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and of impersonating a police officer and is currently in custody for interview and further inquiries.’
Anyone with information is urged to call 101, quoting Operation Lonsdale.
Sussex Police have also issued guidance on what people can do if approached by a lone person claiming to be a police officer.
A spokesperson said: ‘Officers can use their police radio on loudspeaker to talk to the operator in the police control room.
They added: ‘The operator can confirm the identity of the officer, that they are on duty and carrying out legitimate policing business.
‘You can also ask a passer-by to observe.’
The news comes just months after serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens abducted, raped and murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard while she walked home in Clapham, south London.
Couzens handcuffed Ms Everard under false pretense, claiming she was being arrested after breaking Covid restrictions, before brutally murdering her on March 3.
Following his sentencing, the Met faced fury after offering tone-deaf advice that women should attempt to ‘flag a bus down’ if they felt under threat from a police officer.
Legal experts slammed the ‘unrealistic and misconceived’ guidance, which has since been revoked.