He had a badge, his car had emergency lights, he pulled people over — but he wasn't a cop, authorities say

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, deputies assigned to the Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station Special Enforcement Team assumed an investigation regarding a subject impersonating a peace officer. It was reported the subject was conducting traffic stops within the Canyon Lake community while driving a vehicle similar to a police sedan. Video surveillance captured the suspect conducting a traffic stop using a white Crown Victoria sedan with emergency lights affixed to the car. During the traffic stop, the suspect showed the victim a badge in which the victim recognized the words "Agent" and "California." Deputies located the vehicle, and the driver was identified as Steven Sawhill, a 70-year-old resident of Canyon Lake. Deputies located a badge and other identification cards that were determined to be fraudulent in Sawhill's possession. Sawhill was arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer, false imprisonment, and vehicle code violations related to possession of emergency lights.
Riverside County sheriff's deputies recovered this fake badge from a man they allege was impersonating a law enforcement officer in Canyon Lake, near Lake Elsinore. (Riverside County Sheriff's Department)

A 70-year-old man sporting a fake badge and driving a white sedan equipped with emergency lights was arrested Thursday after he allegedly pulled over unsuspecting drivers in Riverside County, officials said.

Witnesses reported that a man driving a white Ford Crown Victoria was conducting traffic stops Thursday in Canyon Lake, near Lake Elsinore, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The man reportedly flashed a badge with the words "agent" and "California," officials added. Authorities did not say why the man was pulling people over.

Deputies located the Crown Victoria in question Thursday and arrested Steven Sawhill, 70, of Canyon Lake, on suspicion of impersonating a peace officer, false imprisonment and vehicle code violations regarding the emergency lights on the car.

Sawhill was also allegedly in possession of other fraudulent identification cards, authorities said.

Anyone with additional information, or who had a similar experience, is asked to contact the Riverside sheriff's Lake Elsinore Station at (951) 245-3300.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.