A man who wanted to be a police officer ended up on the wrong end of the law when he was caught at a checkpoint with firearms and police-issued uniforms and equipment including lights, siren and handcuffs in the back of his car.
The South Auckland man is one of 34 people who have been before the courts for impersonating police since 2008. Figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show that two women and 32 men have been convicted of impersonating police between 2008 and 2011.
The majority of people were convicted in Invercargill, Waitakere, Counties Manukau and Christchurch. The most common age of offender was 17-19 or 25-29.
The Herald requested the information after an impersonating charge was laid against North Shore policewoman Karis Charnley. The case against her was dismissed last week, but her co-accused Cameron Ross was jailed on the same charge.
Earlier this year the Police Association revealed details of others charged with impersonating police in its monthly members' magazine.
The South Auckland man passed a breath test and there were no issues with his vehicle - but his "nervous demeanour" prompted officers to search the car. They found a bullet-proof vest, an old analogue police radio, police lights and sirens, a police glow jacket, handcuffs and two firearms, Police News said.
Officers then searched the man's home and found more than 1000 rounds of ammunition, more police clothing and firearms including imitation Bushmaster rifles and Glock pistols - both used by police.
"To the officers' horror, it turned out the guy actually wanted to join the police. That certainly is not going to happen now, but he is obviously not alone in embracing a fictional law-enforcement role," the association said.
A Hamilton man was caught after he stole a police vest and breath-tester and began stopping cars, pretending to be an on-duty officer.
On Auckland's North Shore, a man admitted posing as an officer after he was caught shoplifting.
"He was found with several forged business cards claiming he was a constable at Takapuna," the association reported. Other examples included a Dunedin man who posed as a cop and threatened a man asleep in his car on the side of the road and a number of dodgy people dressed as "cops" were reported in Christchurch in the aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake.
Thief posed as as policeman
Impersonating a police officer earned Cameron Anthony Ross three months behind bars, which he is serving concurrently with a 12-month term for stealing a car.
Ross admitted picking up a police uniform from Karis Charnley, then working as a police officer on the North Shore. He also obtained a pair of police overalls and an impound notice pad, which was filled out using the identification details of Ms Charnley's former supervisor.
Ross wore the police uniform and went with a male associate, dressed in the overalls, to a house in Devonport. They then proceeded to tell their victim they were cops investigating a hit-and-run, and were there to seize a car. They handed over a false impound notice and left with the vehicle. Ross was later found by police in a different stolen car. With him, he had a set of police epaulets carrying Ms Charnley's officer identification number.
Ms Charnley denied any part in the theft of the car and after a defended hearing the case was dismissed because there was not enough clear evidence to prove her participation.