Logo
Carte Blanche 2021 Slim Billboard Desktop 1600x160

Fake Cops: Things to Look Out For

News
14 March 2021
If you have doubts about the credentials of someone claiming to be a police officer, there are steps to follow should you feel at all unsafe. It is important to remain calm and rational at all times.
Police Impersonators Carte Blanche (1)

With a notable increase in fake police officers extorting money from unsuspecting victims, it’s more important than ever to know what to look out for when approached by a supposed police officer. Granted, criminals have found ways to make convincing forgeries of uniforms and identification documents, but knowing what elements to pay attention to could help you spot a suspected fake cop.

POLICE IDENTIFICATION: THE BASICS

  • A name tag on their uniform. According to the SAPS “[i]f he or she is not wearing a name tag you cannot just ignore them but you have the right to ask the official to identify him or herself…”.
  • Identification should be shown in the form of an appointment card which is carried by all police officers and other police personnel.
  • SAPS detectives are in plain clothes and do not have name tags. Once again, you can request the person to present their appointment card.

NOTE: The SAPS strictly use appointment cards as a form of identification. Contrary to popular belief, badges are not considered proper identification.

WHAT’S ON THE APPOINTMENT CARD?

A legitimate SAPS appointment card is the size of a standard credit card and must have the following:

FRONT

  • SA POLICE SERVICE printed at the top
  • A full-colour picture of the officer on the left
  • The star-shaped SAPS emblem in holographic print on the right
  • The officer’s initials and surname printed in block letters at the bottom

BACK

  • Their force number consisting of eight numbers
  • The officer’s initials and surname printed in block letters below their force number
  • The individual’s 13-digit ID number
  • The officer’s rank (Constable, Sergeant, etc.)
  • The date and place of issue
  • The Police Commissioner’s signature bottom-right

IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS

If you have doubts about the credentials of someone claiming to be a police officer, there are steps to follow should you feel at all unsafe. It is important to remain calm and rational at all times. 

  • Ask the individual to put you in contact with their supervisor to verify their details.
  • If the person refuses, you can call 10111 or your nearest police station and inform them that you feel unsafe and need assistance.
  • Calmly inform the officer that you wish to call 10111 to confirm their credentials.
  • Don’t allow a purported officer into your home unless you are absolutely sure they are who they say they are.
  • If the individual arrives in a vehicle with police markings, you can provide the 10111 operator with the vehicle registration number.
  • If you’re unable to get through to 10111 or a police station, remain calm and inform the alleged officer that you wish to wait either in your locked vehicle or home until their identity has been verified.

CAN I FILM THE POLICE?

Yes. Legally, you are allowed to film or photograph police officers. It is also illegal for officers to confiscate or damage your recording equipment or to force you to remove footage or images. 

If you suspect someone to not be an official officer, contact 10111 or submit a report to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

Sources: SAPS | Criminal Procedure Act | Police Act