From March 2010: Elkhart County police investigate false report

On March 26, 2010, we reported the following update on NewsCenter 16 and on WNDU.com:

It seems a Goshen woman's story about being abducted and raped by a man posing as a police officer was not true.

Elkhart County police said on March 26, 2010, that the preliminary evidence supported the 35-year-old woman's claims.

But after several interviews and a review of phone records, they found the report to be false.

Police want to stress that this false report shouldn't deter victims of sexual assault or battery from coming forward. It's also important to pay attention to the warning signs of a police impersonator.

From March 24, 2010:

Officials say a woman thought she was getting pulled over by a police officer Tuesday night but he turned out to be a rapist.

Police say a 35-year-old woman had just gotten off the Toll Road and was driving on CR 17 near CR 104 at about 9:30 Tuesday night when she saw flashing lights in her rear view mirror.

The woman pulled over, but as the man approached her car, he blinded her with a flashlight. Police say the impersonator pushed his way into the car, drove a short distance and raped the woman. He then drove back to CR 17 and left in his own car.

"I'm thinking we're living in a very scary society and a pretty bad situation that we have to be apprehensive if it is even a person of authority," explains Sandy Wing, who lives in Elkhart County near the attack.

Police are looking for a white man with dark complexion, about 30-years-old driving a white Ford Crown Victoria. That’s the same car as many police squad cars, but officials offer tips to help you spot the crooks.

-Police officers use unmarked squad cars, but they will always be in uniform. Keep in mind off-duty police officers can pull you over in a clearly marked car, so they may not be in uniform. But a person in civilian clothes and an unmarked car is a warning sign.

-The criminal in this case flashed headlights and red lights. That’s a red flag. Police lights are red and blue and it’s illegal for anyone other than police to use that color combination.

-You can always ask an officer to see his or her ID card or badge. Make sure the badge says “police” because fake badges that say things like “security” are easy to get.

"If you have any question you can always call our dispatch or 911 to confirm it. That's not a problem," explains Captain Sean Holmes, Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department. "We are required, by our policy, to call in every stop. So if you're stopped, the dispatcher should know."

If you are ever attacked, police say self-defense training can save your life.

"A few years I was getting gas and a man pulled a knife on me and I had to use my martial arts for that. And it kept me alive," shares Michele Stevens, a black belt who belongs to Steve's Gym Elkhart Martial Arts in downtown Elkhart.

After hearing what happened to the woman in Elkhart County Tuesday night, Stevens and others at the gym chat the benefits of self-defense training even more.

"Self defense is a thought process,” says Bruce Andresen. “It's knowing how to do it and practice, practice, practice. Because what we practice is what we'll actually do in a stressful situation."

Those at Elkhart Martial Arts say if you are ever attacked in your car, you can use your keys as a weapon. They say to stab the attacker in pressure areas--wrist, neck, eyes, groin and throat. The pain will at least distract the criminal so you can hopefully get away.