Suspects posing as cops may have broken into wrong home

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Investigators believe three armed men who posed as police while breaking into a Phoenix home to look for drugs Thursday morning might have hit the wrong place.

It happened at about 4:30 a.m. in the neighborhood of 32nd and McKinley streets, which is south of Roosevelt Street.

A mother was home with her three young children and her own mother at the time.

"What these suspects did is as they were knocking on the door and forcing it open, they said they were police," Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said. "That's a ploy that is sometimes used to try to get the people off guard . Very quickly these people understood that these individuals were not police."

Thompson said the armed suspects did not have any identification and were wearing dark clothing rather than uniforms.

The men forced their way in and ransacked the home. Investigators believe the men were looking for drugs.

"Thus far, we've found no indications that there are any drugs in this house," Thompson said.

Officers believe the suspects might have targeted the wrong home.

"It appears that it very possibly was the wrong target," Thompson said. "That's because of some of the statements by the suspects that 'Maybe we hit the wrong place.'"

A woman, who answered the door at the home didn't want to be identified but did say in Spanish, that the family is okay. She also added, "In today's world we're living with a lot of vandalism and right now we're living with a lot of fear."

Police say if you're ever in a similar situation, first look outside and see what the so-called law enforcement officers are wearing.

"If they're serving a search warrant or making entry, first and foremost they will be recognizable as police officers, they will have badges, they will have identification," Thompson said.

Next, call 911 even if the people at the door look legitimate.

"That serves two purposes, first and foremost it allows police to start rolling your way if in fact they're not police officers. number two if they are police officers those 911 operators are a direct communication with the dispatchers who are direct communication with the officers," Thompson said.

Nobody inside the home was injured, but the three suspects, described only as black men in their 20s or 30s, are on the loose. One of the men was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

If you have any information about Thursday morning's incident, call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377), 1-800-343-TIPS (8477) or 480-TESTIGO (837-8446).