Alleged 'fake cop' charged in three robberies


An al­leged po­lice im­per­son­at­or robbed at least three men in the North­east early last week be­fore an off-duty de­tect­ive helped patrol of­ficers nab the sus­pect on Roosevelt Boulevard.

John Echols’ white Dodge Avenger with Geor­gia plates gave him away.

The de­tect­ive spot­ted the sus­pect’s car at about 4:35 p.m. on May 22 while it traveled north­bound on the Boulevard ap­proach­ing Grant Av­en­ue. Echols, 39, of the 3900 block of Rowena Drive in Tor­res­dale, was be­hind the wheel.

The Dodge fit the de­scrip­tion of a car that had been used in two shake­down-style rob­ber­ies earli­er that day, along with a third rob­bery on May 21.

The de­tect­ive con­tac­ted uni­formed of­ficers, who stopped the car and ar­res­ted Echols, char­ging him with three rob­ber­ies, im­per­son­at­ing a po­lice of­ficer, theft, re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty and reck­less en­dan­ger­ment.

On May 21 at about 3 p.m., a 45-year-old man was walk­ing along the 7900 block of Frank­ford Ave. in Holmes­burg when a white car stopped next to him and two men ex­ited the vehicle. The sus­pects “gave the im­pres­sion” that they were po­lice of­ficers in­vest­ig­at­ing an as­sault, ordered the vic­tim to place his hands on their car and frisked him.

One of the men al­legedly took the vic­tim’s wal­let, re­moved $35 cash from it and handed it back to the vic­tim. The men also asked the vic­tim if he had any out­stand­ing ar­rest war­rants.

The second un­known rob­ber re­mains at large. Po­lice said he is white, about 35 years old, 6 feet 1 inch tall and about 220 pounds. He has black hair and wore a gray, short-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and white sneak­ers.

On May 22 at 9 a.m., a 22-year-old man was walk­ing along the 1000 block of Van Kirk St. in Ta­cony when a single rob­ber tar­geted him in sim­il­ar fash­ion. The sus­pect ex­ited a white car, iden­ti­fied him­self as a po­lice of­ficer and frisked the vic­tim, re­mov­ing sev­er­al items from his pock­ets.

The sus­pect re­turned the vic­tim’s be­long­ings and left the area, but the vic­tim soon dis­covered that he was miss­ing $30 in cash.

A sim­il­ar crime oc­curred at 11:15 that morn­ing on the 6600 block of Marsden St. in Ox­ford Circle. The 22-year-old vic­tim re­por­ted that $123 was stolen from him. He iden­ti­fied the rob­ber’s car as a white Dodge Avenger with Geor­gia plates.

No vic­tims re­por­ted in­jur­ies.

Po­lice said that Echols has 18 pri­or ar­rests for of­fenses, in­clud­ing rob­bery, theft, burg­lary, nar­cot­ics vi­ol­a­tions, in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter, for­gery and as­sault. ••


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