A registered sex offender was arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Officials say it’s not the first time Thomas Manning Hook has done this - it's the 14th time.
Hook, 48, of Frostproof, was arrested Thursday after deputies said he pulled up to a traffic crash involving a vehicle and some livestock.
This is what the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said happened next:
The deputies were investigating the scene in the area of Collany Lane and U.S. 27 when Hook pulled up in a Ford Crown Victoria, activated a set of emergency lights, got out of the car and offered to help deputies.
The deputies declined the offer, and Hook got back into his car and drove north on U.S. 27 with the lights still activated.
Another vehicle then drove up and the people inside identified themselves as deputies with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. They said Hook was wanted for impersonating a law enforcement officer in their county, and they had been following him when he stopped at the crash site.
Hook returned to the crash scene, emergency lights still flashing, as additional deputies arrived to assist. Hook stopped near one of the patrol cars and spoke to a deputy, and then Hook pulled out a wallet that had a gold Private Investigator badge inside with “Chief” engraved on it.
Deputies said Hook presented the badge and identified himself as a Fugitive Recovery Agent. The wallet contained several other cards identifying him as a private investigator, a “law enforcement detective,” a member of veteran’s groups and a member of the clergy. Another card identified him as a retired Major in the Marine Corps.
Deputies said Hook’s vehicle was equipped with a front push bar, emergency lights in the front and rear windows, a prisoner cage, caging over the rear windows, a spotlight and a scanner.
When deputies asked about his identification cards, he first said he was a licensed private investigator in South Carolina, then later said he never claimed to be any of the things indicated on the cards. He also said he had never been a major in the military.
Hook was arrested on charges of committing criminal actions under color of law to hinder a public officer’s duties, impersonation of a bail bondsman and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
He is also facing charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer and illegal use of police insignia out of Highlands County.
Deputies say Hook has been charged 13 times for impersonating a law enforcement officer in several states in the Southeast, including a 2010 incident where he was arrested at a Dunedin Publix after shoplifting candy and sticker books.
They also said he is a registered sexual offender, with the original crime happening in South Carolina in 1992.