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Tampa police search for jewelry store robbers dressed as officers

TAMPA — Four men dressed as police officers tried to rob a jewelry store Friday morning at gunpoint, police said.

Marcelo Suarez had just arrived at his store, Marcelo's Jewelry, at 3117 W Columbus Drive, when he saw a blue or green Saturn with tinted windows and flashing lights park in front of his business about 8 a.m.

The men, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the word "police" on the back, asked to come inside. Suarez, 28, opened the door.

"As soon as he buzzed them in and they walked in," said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis, "he knew immediately they were not police officers."

Within seconds, shots were exchanged between the robbers and Suarez, who owns a handgun, police said. Detectives were still investigating Friday who fired first.

The robbers left and didn't take anything because the jewelry was still inside a safe. Suarez was unharmed, police said. It was unknown Friday if any of the robbers were injured.

Detectives were reviewing the video surveillance of the store and trying to determine whether Suarez was targeted.

On Friday morning, crime scene tape surrounded the store's entrance. About four patrol cars were parked in front of the business.

Other police impersonators have been reported in the past. In April, a man stopped by New Port Richey police for speeding claimed he was an officer by showing them a gold badge.

Another man, posing as an off-duty officer, was arrested by Tampa police in June 2011, accused of raping a woman.

In January 2011, Luis Munuzuri-Harris was convicted of posing as an officer to rob and rape a woman on Bayshore Boulevard.

Davis said criminals posing as police are "very concerning."

"It brings it to another level," she said, "when you have someone who is potentially impersonating a police officer."

Tampa police search for jewelry store robbers dressed as officers 07/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 27, 2012 8:13pm]

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