Police search for armed and dangerous police impersonator

by: Craig Lucie Updated:

Police said when Matthew Buddhin kept asking for cash back from a store, a clerk confronted him and he told the clerk that he was a Gwinnett county police officer.

ATLANTA - Police agencies in several metro Atlanta counties are looking for a man who they say is impersonating an officer, and he is armed and dangerous.

After a SWAT stand-off at a motel, police say they nearly caught 34-year-old Matthew Buddhin Monday.

Lawrenceville police say Buddin wasn’t inside as they first thought, but they found a cache of weapons, ammunition and police equipment in his room.

The evidence is now in an evidence locker.

Police say Buddin is impersonating an officer and committing fraud in multiple counties, but they worry about what else he could be up to.

Captain Greg Vaughn with the Lawrenceville Police Department is worried about what Buddin could be doing while dressed as a police officer.

“I consider it to be a dangerous situation,” Vaughn said.

The Lawrenceville Police Department obtained warrants for Buddin in January after he allegedly impersonated a police officer and shoplifted from a Walmart on Lawrenceville Highway.

Surveillance pictures show him with a badge and gun strapped to his side. He was wearing cargo pants, a polo shirt and jacket. It’s one of several WalMarts police say he’s hit in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties committing fraud.

“Somehow or another he’ll change the UPC code. He would take the item back and buy another item, switch them out and take the item back without a receipt, of course, and get money back for the higher item,” Vaughn said.  

Police say he was getting cash back and when he kept coming back a clerk questioned him. Police say that’s when he told one of the clerks that he was a Gwinnett County police officer and had no reason to steal.

Channel 2’s Craig Lucie found seven mug shots of Buddin. He has faced charges ranging from forged prescriptions to theft by receiving. Lucie took his most recent mug shot to an Army/Navy store in Gwinnett County.

An employee told Lucie, Buddin has been in the store.

Ron Shield told Lucie that he can’t recall the last time Buddin stopped by, but while Lucie was there, Shield posted Buddin’s picture on the front door.

“I recognize him as somebody who has been here. I was not aware of him doing what he’s doing,” Shield said.

Shield said that they always work closely with law enforcement and don’t sell badges. Police think Buddin may have bought a Gwinnett County badge online because a Gwinnett officer has not reported that his/her badge was stolen.

Police think Buddin may have seen the SWAT team at the motel yesterday and fled. Right now police are hoping someone will recognize him and call 911.

Channel 2 Action News

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