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. ••EndFragment