Trio uses fake badges in home invasion robbery

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Police want answers after a terrifying home invasion robbery early Thursday morning at the Macon Manor Apartments on Macon Road.

Three Hispanics were the target of the home invasion robbery, a crime many in the Hispanic community are calling senseless.

Three people were arrested for breaking into an apartment and impersonating police. Authorities said the trio used fake badges to commit the crime.

"Two of them had badges on the belt. One had a badge around the neck," Lieutenant Colonel M.D. Jones of the Memphis Police Department said.

After hearing a knock on their door, three Hispanic males inside the apartment opened up, thinking it was actually police. The three victims were then robbed and forced to lay on the floor at gunpoint.

Lauda Davis with Hispanic Offices of the Mid-South said this type of crime is becoming a common occurrence with Hispanics.

"I think problems with the economy and the way things are is making crime go high, and Hispanics are targeted as easy targets," Davis said.

Davis said some Hispanics are also vulnerable because they sometimes carry too much cash.

"Most of them walk around, go to work all week long.  They carry their paychecks with them, where they actually have large sums of money on them, which makes them a real easy target," Davis said.

Authorities said taking extra steps to stay safe is the key.

"Police officers are always supposed to have their ID's with them.  You can ask for ID.  You can also contact the police department and ask if there's a reason why police should be at your residence," Jones said.

Fake badges and uniforms not easy to obtain

Anita Zinn at Shapiro Uniforms in Memphis has been in business for over 20 years.  She says when it comes to buying law enforcement equipment or uniforms, it's not as easy as you might think.

"I'm hoping it wouldn't be easy at all, because I hope my personnel are trained to where if someone comes in, they check for proper identification," she said.

According to Zinn, anyone looking to buy a badge or patch with a title or rank on it must show where they're employed.

"The only badges we keep in stock are security badges," she said. "If they don't have a security ID, we won't sell it to them."
Zinn says ID is also necessary to purchase handcuffs and even certain types of mace.

"We have little small or key chain size that we sell to the public, but for the police one, you're required to have proper identification for that," she said.

Many internet websites follow similar policies.  While customers don't need ID for items like shoes, shirts or pants, anything else that includes a rank or title must be purchased only by phone.  Some online businesses  require people to fax their official law enforcement ID on company letterhead to verify they work with the department.

Back in Memphis...

"If they don't have ID we won't sell it to them."

Zinn says it's a way to keep police and other law enforcement supplies from getting into the wrong hands.

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.