South Carolina: Unmarked, Junk Pickup Used in Speed Trap
Police in Charleston County, South Carolina are using an unmarked junk pickup truck to trap and give motorists speeding tickets.

Pickup interiorCharleston County, South Carolina sheriffs are using a beat up pickup truck to sneak up on surprised motorists and issue speeding tickets. Police seized the V-6 powered domestic long-bed truck in a drug raid. They then equipped it with blue police lights and tinted windows, making it very hard to identify as a legitimate police vehicle.

"I don't know any other officers who drive (an unmarked) pickup truck," police truck driver Mathew Pagliarini told the Post and Courier newspaper. "When I'm driving around with my wife in a normal car, we always see drivers do crazy things that they wouldn't do if they saw a police car. Now I can do something about it."

Pagliarini was unfazed by the notion that his efforts could make it easier for others to pose as police officers. "You never know," he said. "You get some freaks driving around with blue lights. Last night two guys posing as police officers robbed some folks in North Charleston."

Speeders can't believe it: Busted by an old pickup

BY CHRIS DIXON
The Post and Courier

MOUNT PLEASANT - Rocketing into pursuit of another speeding driver, it's apparent that Mathew Pagliarini has found a traffic enforcement vehicle that suits him.

The Mount Pleasant traffic officer isn't cruising around in a stealthy Camaro, Mustang or Dodge Charger, but rather an off-the-shelf, American-made, six- cylinder-powered pickup truck.

Motorists have started noticing Pagliarini's rickety long-bed truck, outfitted with tinted windows and hidden blue lights, but he wants to limit descriptions of the make and model for now. Police seized the truck in a drug raid, and Pagliarini said a newer, V-8 powered truck is expected to arrive next month.

"I don't know any other officers who drive (an unmarked) pickup truck," he said. "When I'm driving around with my wife in a normal car, we always see drivers do crazy things that they wouldn't do if they saw a police car. Now I can do something about it."

At the base of the James B. Edwards Bridge, which spans the Wando River on Interstate 526, Pagliarini fired up his hazard flashers and clocked cars and tractor-trailers consistently exceeding 75 mph. Just as he prepared to pursue a tailgating 18-wheeler, a Jeep Wrangler weaved through cars at 84 mph. A few minutes after hand-delivering its driver a citation, the pickup was passed at 75 mph by a tailgating Dodge Durango. "You could barely fit a paperclip between him and that car," Pagliarini said.

The perpetrator was a commercial truck driver who said he was trying to catch up to a semi that had left some papers at the Wando port terminal. Though he slammed his hands on the steering wheel after being pulled over, the driver, who asked that he not be identified, said he wasn't surprised by the blue lights. "I know I was driving a little rough. I shouldn't have been driving like that."

"I could have given him a following-too-close ticket," Pagliarini said. "That's $250 dollars and four points on his license, which would result in a suspension for his commercial driver's license. But I think I got my point across with a speeding ticket. I didn't want to take away the guy's livelihood."

As he sat awaiting another speeder, a Department of Transportation rescue vehicle pulled alongside to render assistance. "Hey man, you're blowing my cover," Pagliarini said.

A few minutes later a Dodge Stratus blasted by at 83 mph. As he wrote the astonished driver a ticket, a Charleston County sheriff's deputy pulled up to make sure the truck held a police officer.

"You never know," the officer said. "You get some freaks driving around with blue lights. Last night two guys posing as police officers robbed some folks in North Charleston."

If flashed by an unmarked car, Pagliarini recommended that nervous drivers acknowledge the officer by turning on an interior light and waving. Drivers should then pull into the slow lane and continue driving until reaching a well-lit or well-populated area. Cruising toward Daniel Island, Pagliarini pulled over a Hollywood resident in a rickety Chevy Malibu. Saying he was late for work, the 90-mph driver said he couldn't believe it when he was stopped by a pickup truck. "I'll be driving slower now for sure."

The driver then spied the repository for much of Pagliarini's gear and, occasionally, his 1-year-old son. "You even got a baby seat in there? Oh, man, I don't believe it."

Soon, Pagliarini was gunning for another speeder. "At the beginning of my career I liked a marked car because I wanted people to know I was a cop. Now that I've been doing this for a while, I like them not knowing because I like to see the dirty things people are up to. And I like to catch them."