Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "As usual these home invasion robberies have a plan, scheme, and design to them, and in this particular case which has been pretty constant, it was a dope rip off."
Deputies arrested Jaime Blancas, 27, from Turlock in a vehicle across the street. They say he had a loaded 40 caliber gun hidden in the car, and they later discovered he was carrying a receipt for tactical gear from the Crescent Work and Outdoor Shop in Modesto. Sheriff Mark Pazin believes it's evidence of a dangerous trend of criminals dressing as officers.
Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "I don't want to get into a firefight because somebody is thinking it's a drug rip off and it's actually deputy sheriffs from Merced County."
An employee at the store told us off camera identification is required to buy law enforcement patches and certain items, such as bullet proof vests. But she said anyone can buy tactical gear. Sheriff Pazin says he's instructed his staff to have a marked patrol unit with drug task force agents during search warrants to avoid confusion.
Sheriff Mark Pazin added, "If you're concerned, call 911 and we will identify ourselves to make sure there's no problems or an unfortunate set of circumstances occurs and someone gets injured or heaven forbid killed."
There were no reports of injuries in this home invasion, and the sheriff's office is still looking into whether the victims could face charges for marijuana possession.
Jaime Blancas was booked in jail on three counts, including first degree robbery. Blancas bailed out a few hours later.