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I have covered the topic in previous articles; it is illegal to wear a police uniform just for the fun of it. This also applies to parties such as carnival and Halloween. You may not dress up as a cop. To prevent such use, there is even a company in the Netherlands that handles the confidential destruction of these uniforms.
These measures are in place to prevent these clothes from falling into the wrong hands. So what happens when someone wears a police uniform while committing a crime? What punishment awaits you?
Robbery in police uniform costs you your freedom and money
The legal system varies per country and so do the penalties. The judge will also take into account the offense that was committed.
At the end of December, a judge in Rotterdam (Netherlands) pronounced a judgment on a case in which four men committed a robbery on a PostNL van. Because two of the robbers were wearing police uniforms, the driver cooperated when the cargo had to be “checked”. They locked the driver up and took off with computers and telephones worth EUR 80,000.
The judge stated that the use of the uniforms damaged confidence in the police and sentenced the uniformed robbers to twenty-four months. He sentenced the other two to 18 months, 9 months in prison, and 9 months on probation. They were also ordered to pay a fine of 54,000 euros as compensation to the victims.
When you wear the uniform?
Lawyer Kim Hendriks emphasizes that the length of the punishment depends on the situation.
“People are prohibited from wearing a police officer’s uniform, but a judge will always consider the circumstances. Amongst other things, he will consider intent. When you wear a police uniform to a party, this is most likely meant as fun. In this instance, the penalty will not be that high. But wearing it while committing an offense or crime, is a different story. This is a multi-act concurrence because it involves several criminal offenses. They can then increase the penalty by a maximum of one-third of the amount that applies to the crime (robbery, burglary, etc).“
In the United Kingdom, the sentences seem to be more or less the same as in the Netherlands. A British judge ruled last year in a case in which a group of men committed a criminal offense while wearing a police uniform. It concerned three gentlemen who had broken into an apartment in Kent. They took money, handbags, and designer clothes, amongst other things. Depending on their role in the burglary, the men were sentenced to between two and a half to five years in prison.
But not every robber in a uniform gets away with only a couple of years in prison. In December 2020, a man from Memphis (America) was sentenced to 20 years for committing multiple robberies. He stole a security guard’s van, his uniform, and pistol and committed three robberies within twenty minutes.
It should be clear: committing a crime is not very smart, and certainly not in a uniform.