iPhones faking police lights. Android phones too (with demonstration video)

johnboy 13 July 2011 24

flashing lights

ACT Policing is raising concerns about the use of un-authorised warning devices including the use of flashing lights in personal vehicles.

ACT Policing has received several reports in the past few weeks of non-police vehicles using red and blue flashing lights — believed to be smart phone applications — visible by other road users, and placing them in vulnerable positions.

ACT Policing Operations Superintendent Kylie Flower said that these types of incidents are concerning and may lead to criminal charges if someone is caught using a smart phone or device in this manner.

“ACT Policing takes matters like this very seriously. It is an offence to impersonate a police officer, and there are obvious concerns including road safety and community confidence,” Superintendent Flower said.

“While we do have different coloured cars — including the purple RAPID fleet and a green utility for example — our police vehicles are highly visible and have several blue and red flashing lights, particularly along passenger windows, on the roof of cars and on the rear dash.

“If you are pulled over by a police officer in an unmarked car or an uniformed officer, they must be carrying their badge, and this is a sure way of identification. It is also an offence to fail to obey police direction and ACT Policing officers will identify themselves as police. The public has every right to ask for identification and credentials,” she said.

A person apprehended for impersonating a police officer may be charged under section 362 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT), which has a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units and/or imprisonment for six months.

Police are urging anyone who may have witnessed this type of behaviour to contact ACT Policing Operations on 131 444.

[Courtesy ACT Policing]

[ED – It turns out my phone already does this through the entirely innocent torch app. We’re not sure who will be fooled by this one]


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24 Responses to iPhones faking police lights. Android phones too (with demonstration video)
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Henry82 Henry82 1:03 pm 14 Jul 11

thatsnotme said :

‘hmm…I’m not convinced that those flashing lights are bright enough to be a genuine police car, so I shall ignore them and continue driving’ ?

From what i’ve seen police flash lights, then a quick press of the siren to get your attention.

If i saw lights in the video above, yes i would keep driving.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 11:02 am 14 Jul 11

Clown Killer said :

Think of it this way, if you wear a police uniform around civic while minding your own business, should you be charged with impersonating an officer?

I once met a stripper who wore a police uniform. Well for s short time at least …

Citizen’s arrest and cuff them to the bed. It’s the only way to be sure.

djk djk 10:09 am 14 Jul 11

Clown Killer said :

I once met a stripper who wore a police uniform. Well for s short time at least …

Dont suppose she flashed her headlights as well??

thatsnotme thatsnotme 10:34 pm 13 Jul 11

GottaLoveCanberra said :

Are you serious? People actually fall for this s***!

If anyone’s ever actually been pulled over you’ll know just how bright police lights are and there’s no way on this Earth a ‘smart phone’ will ever be able to replicate that.

But what if you haven’t ever been pulled over? What if you were a perfectly law abiding citizen, driving home one night, and you suddenly saw red and blue lights behind you? Are you going to sit there and think to yourself ‘hmm…I’m not convinced that those flashing lights are bright enough to be a genuine police car, so I shall ignore them and continue driving’ ?

GottaLoveCanberra GottaLoveCanberra 6:45 pm 13 Jul 11

Are you serious? People actually fall for this s***!

If anyone’s ever actually been pulled over you’ll know just how bright police lights are and there’s no way on this Earth a ‘smart phone’ will ever be able to replicate that.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 6:30 pm 13 Jul 11

Henry82 said :

What if the offender isn’t pulling people over and inturn impersonating a police officer? What if they are just driving with their mobiles on the dashboard with flashing lights on? Does this constitute impersonating a police officer?

I am not a lawyer, but….
I’d suggest that “minding my own business one night, in my white Commodore with blue\red flashing lights on the dashboard, driving behind people who mysteriously always let me overtake” would not be a valid excuse, and would fairly easily put you into strict liability offence territory.

If you can be easily mistaken for a police officer and its not for the purposes of entertainment\drama (not just your own) then you’re probably crossing a line, and police would like to have a chat with you.

IE: Ignorance is no excuse.

Actually pulling people anybody over would be considered intent, and get your two years in the pokey.

Mr Gillespie Mr Gillespie 6:07 pm 13 Jul 11

EvanJames said :

Mr Gillespie said :

What is it with sad “people” who have to resort to impersonating police to pull someone over??

I can think of a few people here with police fantasies who’d probably love it…….

Yes, well there ya go. Would you take out such fantasies on strangers or people you have never met?

Clown Killer Clown Killer 5:36 pm 13 Jul 11

Think of it this way, if you wear a police uniform around civic while minding your own business, should you be charged with impersonating an officer?

I once met a stripper who wore a police uniform. Well for s short time at least …

Henry82 Henry82 5:12 pm 13 Jul 11

john87_no1 said :

What if the offender isn’t pulling people over and inturn impersonating a police officer? What if they are just driving with their mobiles on the dashboard with flashing lights on? Does this constitute impersonating a police officer?..

Think of it this way, if you wear a police uniform around civic while minding your own business, should you be charged with impersonating an officer? imo yes.

john87_no1 john87_no1 4:40 pm 13 Jul 11

Skidbla

What I meant was:

What if the offender isn’t pulling people over and inturn impersonating a police officer? What if they are just driving with their mobiles on the dashboard with flashing lights on? Does this constitute impersonating a police officer?

Does Section 362 (2) of the Act cover what im saying?

Just to stir the pot..

EvanJames EvanJames 4:21 pm 13 Jul 11

Mr Gillespie said :

What is it with sad “people” who have to resort to impersonating police to pull someone over??

I can think of a few people here with police fantasies who’d probably love it.

As for that spokesperson saying police cars are highly visible, that’s crap. Only the highly visible police cars are highly visible. I’ve seen cars pulled over by very plain coloured cars indeed, with little flashy blinky lights going on the dash, and in the grille (much like Kit).

Someone with an i-phone on the dash would be quite convincing. Provided they weren’t driving an excel or Mightyboy.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 2:44 pm 13 Jul 11

john87_no1 said :

But they aren’t impersonating a police officer – just the light patterns they happen to use on their cars?

I’m pretty sure getting someone to pull over through using the same signal as a public officials engaged in their duties counts as representation.
If you have provable intent (rather than merely unintentionally pretending to be a police officer), you can get a heftier charge.

Criminal Code 2002, as effective today
Section 360 – Impersonating territory public official
(1) A person commits an offence if the person—
(a) on a particular occasion, impersonates someone else in the
other person’s capacity as a territory public official; and
(b) does so—
(i) knowing it to be in circumstances when the official is
likely to be performing his or her duty; and
(ii) with intent to deceive.
Maximum penalty: 200 penalty units, imprisonment for 2 years or
both.

Note: Public official is a superset which contains Territory public officials, who are by definition:
…Any person having public official functions for the Territory, or acting in a public official capacity for the Territory, and includes the following:
member of the Legislative Assembly; Minister; judge, magistrate or tribunal member; master of the Supreme Court; registrar or other officer of a court or tribunal; public servant; officer or employee of a territory authority or instrumentality; statutory office-holder or an officer or employee of a statutory office-holder; police officer; contractor who exercises a function or performs work for the Territory, a territory authority or instrumentality or a statutory office-holder; authorised person, or a territory service authorised person under the Utilities Act 2000

Section 362 – Impersonating police officer
(1) A person who is not a police officer commits an offence if the
person wears a uniform or badge of a police officer.
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units, imprisonment for 6 months or
both.
(2) A person who is not a police officer commits an offence if the
person represents himself or herself to be a police officer.
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units, imprisonment for 6 months or
both.
(3) An offence against subsection (1) or (2) is a strict liability offence.

(4) A person who is not a police officer commits an offence if the
person wears clothing or a badge reckless about whether the
clothing or badge would cause someone to believe that the person is
a police officer.
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units, imprisonment for 6 months or
both.
(5) This section does not apply to conduct engaged in solely for
entertainment.

Spectra Spectra 2:13 pm 13 Jul 11

Mr Gillespie said :

johnboy said :

Well I’m pretty sure the torch app on my phone could be tricked into doing this and I’ve just got it for putting the keys into my lock at night.

But does that one flash the lights? If the torch-like light is steady, then it still looks innocent enough, even from a distance.

Some apps can do more than one thing, you realise. The app in question has a number of modes, one of which is the very useful, plain white “torch” mode. Another is the (probably less useful to most of us) police-style mode.

Mr Gillespie said :

You have to question why one would want to pull someone over on a road? Are they sick or what?

I’d imagine it’s brilliant if you just want someone to pull out of your way when they’re going too slow for your liking.

john87_no1 said :

But they aren’t impersonating a police officer – just the light patterns they happen to use on their cars?

Best of luck explaining that distinction to a judge. You’re going to need it.

john87_no1 john87_no1 1:50 pm 13 Jul 11

“ACT Policing takes matters like this very seriously. It is an offence to impersonate a police officer, and there are obvious concerns including road safety and community confidence,” Superintendent Flower said.

But they aren’t impersonating a police officer – just the light patterns they happen to use on their cars?

Henry82 Henry82 1:11 pm 13 Jul 11

As people have already said, a penalty unit is (currently) $110.

I dont think a phone is a strong enough light source to trick people into thinking it’s a police strobe.

Mr Gillespie Mr Gillespie 12:50 pm 13 Jul 11

Yeah, that does look rather sus…..I mean why would someone want to make or use such a thing?

johnboy johnboy 11:59 am 13 Jul 11

even added video for you now MrG. (albeit I’ve never used that mode before now).

Mr Gillespie Mr Gillespie 11:55 am 13 Jul 11

johnboy said :

Well I’m pretty sure the torch app on my phone could be tricked into doing this and I’ve just got it for putting the keys into my lock at night.

But does that one flash the lights? If the torch-like light is steady, then it still looks innocent enough, even from a distance. It’s a bit different to the ones advertised in the App Store as “police lights” that flash, which could be mistaken as real police lights from a distance/glance.

You have to question why one would want to pull someone over on a road? Are they sick or what?

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:27 am 13 Jul 11

Tony said :

“which has a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units”
WFT, penalty units???
How many units do we get, and a table of what offences cost in units?

The reason lawmakers use multiples of ‘penalty units’ is so that successfully passing a change only requires a single amendment to a single existing Act (Section 133 of the ACT Legislation Act 2001, July 2011 version is current), rather than trying to get an Assembly to pass amendments to every cash penalty reference in every law every year, just to to keep up with inflation is much harder than adjusting just one approximate reference occasionally (or modifying the multiple of a specific penalty if you want to adjust the penalty and not worry about inflation).

An example of failing to do this is in Section 3 of our constitution, relating to the pay of the Governor General. Apparently the GG’s worth is less than minimum wage.

But in answer to your question:

Section 133: Penalty units
(1) In a law, if a penalty for an offence is expressed as a number
(whether whole or fractional) of penalty units, the penalty for the
offence is a fine of that number of penalty units.
(2) A penalty unit is—
(a) for an offence committed by an individual—$110; or
(b) for an offence committed by a corporation—$550.

johnboy johnboy 11:26 am 13 Jul 11

Well I’m pretty sure the torch app on my phone could be tricked into doing this and I’ve just got it for putting the keys into my lock at night.

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