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Six Teens Arrested in Fake Cop 'Pranks'

Temecula police say a tip about a video posted on a social media website led to their arrests in connection with two separate incidents reported Dec. 23.

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Six teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of committing a recent series of police impersonation incidents in Temecula, authorities said Friday.

Temecula police say a tip about a video posted on a social media website led to their arrests in connection with two separate incidents reported Dec. 23.

At about 6:45 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. that evening, officers from the Temecula Police Department investigated two cases where unknown suspects claiming to be Temecula police officers detained victims who were parked in their cars in residential neighborhoods, according to Sgt. Leonard Purvis.

“The suspects used high powered flashlights and electronic megaphones to order the victims out of their cars and to lie face down on the pavement,” Purvis said. “The suspects then drove away after the victims complied with their orders.”

He said the first alleged encounter occurred in the Harveston community near the intersection of Lakehouse Road and Harveston Drive, while the second happened about two hours later in the 31000 block of Sonoma Lane.

Police issued a warning to residents following those reports.

On Friday, due to the tip about the video, investigators identified, located and arrested all six of the suspects they believe were involved.

“Investigators learned the suspects committed these crimes while playing what they considered to be pranks,” Temecula police Sgt. Kevin McDonald said Friday. “There were no attempts to harm or rob any of the victims during these incidents.”

Mason Gonzalez, 18, the only suspect who was not a minor, was booked at Southwest Detention Center near Murrieta on suspicion of impersonating a police officer.

The other suspects include three girls and two boys, whose identities were not provided because they are under 18.

“Three of the juvenile suspects were released to their parents and charges will be sought against them while they remain out of custody,” McDonald said. “The other two juvenile suspects were booked into the Southwest Juvenile Hall on the above charges.”

Investigators allegedly have evidence indicating there are at least another four to five similar cases committed by these suspects that have not been reported to the police, McDonald said.

Anyone with additional information regarding these incidents was encouraged to contact Investigator James Dickey or Investigator Rachael Frost at the Temecula Police Department by calling 951-696-3000.

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