DeSoto County deputies are warning the public about a truck impersonating a patrol vehicle
DESOTO COUNTY, Fla. – Law enforcement in Southwest Florida is warning drivers about someone allegedly impersonating a police officer.
The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office said they stopped a truck equipped with emergency lights and red and blue decals, but the person behind the wheel was not a police officer.
If you look closely at the truck, which mimics U.S. Customs and Border Patrol insignia, you’ll find that “Border Patrol” actually says “Spoils Patrol.”
“It’s the closest you can get to Border Patrol and still have a ‘B’ in it,” said Gabriel Loviano, of Bradenton who owns the pickup truck.
Loviano built the truck after discovering another similar truck in the West. He wanted to bring the jokes here to the Sunshine State.
Gage: “Was your intention in building this truck to make it look like you were impersonating a police officer?”
Gabriel: “No. It wasn’t. It was just to have a little fun, you know? It was never my intention to control people or nothing.”
He told ABC7 he started upgrading the truck after he got bored, which resulted in thousands being poured into the vehicle.
Gabriel: “I mean the truck alone was worth $7,500,” he said. “Everything else, it’s like another $5,000. I was just bored, you know? And I just decided on it.”
Gage: “That’s a lot of money just to get bored.”
Gabriel: “Yes, I know the guy. But just to have fun, you know?”
So far, it’s just been fun and games for the 18-year-old from Bradenton.
“I have videos of cops coming to me and they just want a picture.”
And on Sunday night after an event in Arcadia, he ran into a DeSoto County deputy who wasn’t laughing at his truck.
“As soon as I pulled out of the event, a police officer stopped me,” Luviano said.
He was ticketed for improperly displaying lights on his rims, including prohibited red and blue lights. The fine is $113.
“A lot of people love it, some people hate it,” he added.
According to Loviano, he never uses red and blue emergency lights while on the road. He said he only operates them while parked and on private property, such as at car shows.
ABC7 asked veteran law enforcement officer turned Florida Gulf Coast University professor David Thomas about his thoughts on the truck.
Gage: “Plain and simple, is this impersonating a police officer? Just mounting it on the car?”
David: “Oh, with the graphics package, sure. You’d have to see it for it to be illegal if that makes sense? They’d have to be on. It’d have to be activated. He’d certainly be suspended, and he’d be cited for getting those lights.”
According to Florida law, “No person shall drive, move, or cause to be moved any vehicle or equipment on any highway within this State with any lamp or device thereon exhibiting or displaying a red, red, white, or blue light immediately visible.” In front of their car.
While this is the first time he’s ended up with a ticket, Gabriel said he doesn’t plan to write any fake tickets.
Gage: “Is the spoils patrol going to pull anyone over here in Southwest Florida anytime soon?”
Gabriel: “No. Not anywhere.”