According to CHP officials, the man drives up to disabled motorists in a compact car and identifies himself as a CHP mechanic who works with the Freeway Service Patrol. He offers to repair the vehicle if they give him money for parts. Then he takes the money and never returns.
Tracy-area CHP spokesman Adam Shelton said CHP mechanics do not drive around assisting the public with disabled vehicles on freeways.
He said the only legitimate people helping stranded motorists are members of the CHP Freeway Service Patrol, but they are not employed as mechanics.
So far, the reported incidents involving the imposter have occurred late at night in the Stockton area on Highway 99 and Interstate 5, said Shelton.
The man reportedly wears a mechanic’s uniform shirt with a badge, but no additional details were provided by the highway patrol.
Shelton said authorized patrol workers rove the freeways in clearly identifiable white tow trucks and white pickups marked with a yellow triangle within a blue circle, with the words “Freeway Service Patrol” and the name and logo of “Mike’s Towing Service” on their vehicles.
He said they tow disabled vehicles to designated areas off the freeways and provide gasoline and tire repairs, but they do not charge for their services.
Shelton said it is illegal for someone who is not authorized to stop on the freeway and offer assistance.
“If anyone stops to help, stay in your car and call 800-TELL-CHP (800-833-5247), and the call goes right to our dispatch,” he said.
Anyone who has information about the imposter or who has been victimized by him should call the Stockton CHP at 943-8666.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.