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Fake Chinese Policer Cars Roil Aussies

Illustration for article titled Fake Chinese Policer Cars Roil Aussies
Photo: Youtube

Over the past few weeks, Australians in Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne have reported seeing cop cars they didn’t recognize around town. These didn’t look like patrol cars from the state over, though. They looked like you what you might get pulled over by in Shanghai or Shenzhen.

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According to Vice, reported sightings of the cars in Chinese police livery coincided with confrontations in Adelaide between demonstrators protesting in favor and condemnation of the current social unrest in Hong Kong, causing some to suggest a relationship between the cars and the events.

An actual Chinese police car
An actual Chinese police car
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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Although no link has been found and a policewoman told 7 News Australia that an owner told her that he “bought the decals on eBay,” some remain concerned. A demonstration leader speaking under condition of anonymity told the ABC that “there are people who are intimidated by it,” adding that she was concerned after seeing the second one, unsure if it was a coordinated intimidation effort or a prank.

A real police car from Western Australia
A real police car from Western Australia
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The decal-ed cars may have spooked a number of people, but the state governments involved are unsure whether they actually are illegal. All of the states in question have statutes on the books banning impersonation of police, but it is unclear if that also pertains to impersonate foreign law enforcement as well.

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

Western Australia Criminal Code

  • 87. Impersonating a public officer
  • (a) wears what is or purports to be the uniform of a public officer; or(b) represents himself or herself by word or conduct to be a public officer,when the person is not such a public officer.(2) A person who impersonates a public officer and who ¾(a) purports to do or exercise; or(b) attends any place for the purposes of doing or exercising,any act or power of such a public officer is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 2 years.Summary conviction penalty: imprisonment for 12 months and a fine of $12 000.(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) it is immaterial whether the power referred to exists at law.(4) An allegation in a charge of an offence under this section that at the material time the accused was not a public officer, or not a public officer of the kind that the accused is alleged to have impersonated, must be taken to be proved, unless the contrary is proved.[Section 87 inserted by No. 70 of 2004 s. 9.]

The law is not clear enough. It talks about the way a person conducts themselves and how they are dressed, but mentions nothing about the vehicle they use. So I can get a Perth firetruck and drive it around town with a Heath Ledger’s Joker outfit and be just fine.