Warrant issued for sheriff impersonator accused of stealing cars

NOW: Warrant issued for sheriff impersonator accused of stealing cars

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- It started last spring. A man impersonating a law enforcement officer is accused of taking cars for test drives, but never returning them.

"He whips out his badge, shows me his badge, and I thought he was a deputy sheriff," said John Rahm.

On March 17, that man told Rahm his wife was at the bank getting money. The so-called deputy took Rahm's car for a test drive and never came back.

"The individual identified himself as a police officer several times in a two-minute conversation. So, he really wanted to hammer home the fact he was a police officer and get him to trust me," said Mike Weier.

The phone call was all too familiar. Weier and Rahm are friends. Just a month after Rahm's car was stolen by a man with a badge claiming to be a deputy, so-called police officer wanted to buy Weier's car.

"When it happened to him, I called Detective Belli and said, 'Basically the same situation is happening to another friend of mine,'" said Rahm.

"The West Allis Police Department got involved. They were ready to be there if he was going to steal a vehicle and catch him in the act," said Weier.

The man never showed up to buy the car. Months later, police filed this search warrant and traced the number that called Rahm in March. They got a match.

"I saw the mugshot. There was like 9 mugshots they gave me and I said, 'This is definitely the guy,'" said Rahm.

West Allis Police believe Johnnie L. Hart is the impersonator, and now there's a warrant out for his arrest.

"This guy has been preying on people in the Milwaukee and Waukesha area for a while now," said Weier.

Oak Creek Police investigated a similar incident in October 2016, and police believe Hart is responsible for stealing a vehicle from a car dealership in Oak Creek. In that incident, the guy didn't show a badge but did claim to be with a sheriff's office.

Acting Sheriff Schmidt with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office says the public can call the Sheriff's office and verify the person works for our agency. "Always ask to see their badge and Sheriff's Office picture identification."

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