Posted: Feb 5, 2013 5:45 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2013 11:52 PM
HIDALGO COUNTY - Weslaco police officials said they work hard to keep old equipment from being misused after it goes on the auction block.
The statement comes after seven former police cruisers were stolen from a lot in McAllen. All the vehicles were recovered. Still, the thefts raised concerns.
Weslaco Police Spokesman J.P. Rodriguez said it would be possible for someone to use an old cruiser to impersonate police. Even so, it would be a difficult endeavor, he said.
"You see all the equipment in here ... all this will eventually be stripped off it," Rodriguez said while showing a police cruiser.
He said it's a lengthy process.
"The radio, emergency lighting," he said. "Most of the (time) we store the seats, so when they get auctioned off we install the original seats."
He said the decommissioning process helps fight crime.
"We try to prepare them as best as possible so we don't get in a situation where they're getting confused with a cloned police car or unmarked vehicle," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said criminals still find ways to impersonate police.
"There are even applications on phones where you can get flashing blue and red lights. The equipment is there for people to use them in a way that's illegal ... in a manner where they will identify themselves as law enforcement," he said.
Rodriguez said it's imperative that people report anyone impersonating police.