LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - On camera it looks like a quick conversation between a customer and a store employee at the Dollar General in Laurel County, on Sunday. But what you don't see is the man trying to steal several items by simply flashing a sheriff's badge.
"Shoplifters can be arrested and detained by merchants without a warrant, and so I guess that was his solution, 'I'll show a badge and I'll say I'm a deputy,'" said Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, of the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.
The man was was no deputy, he was a mystery. That is until a Facebook post Thursday on the Sheriff's Office page. That's when followers began sharing tips that eventually lead investigators to 28-year-old Robert Trabish Jr.
"Less than an hour, the eyes and ears of Laurel county were giving us tips on this and that's how we solved it," boasted Acciardo of the community's quick action.
Trabish's neighbor said he bought the phony badge at a flea market a while back.
"He's had it for months on his wallet," said Rikki Neely, "It's like just a little toy that says 'sheriff' on it. That's all it is."
Acciardo described the badge a little differently, "It's a better-than-average badge, but it's not an official badge by no means."
Neely said it was a surprise to hear what her neighbor is accused of attempting over the past weekend, "I mean I would never feel he'd do something like that, you know, flip it out and try and rob somebody."
But Deputies say he did and that he initially owned up to it, well for a bit, then he flipped his story faster than he flipped his fake badge.
"He had a change of heart, he's now saying he didn't do it and he doesn't know anything about it," explained Acciardo.
Trabish is charged with impersonating a peace officer, which is a felony, and it's a charge that real peace officers take personally.
"We haven't had any other complaints in the area, but that was our fear, that if he displayed it once, he could display it again," said Acciardo.
Also during Trabish's arrest, his girlfriend Marie Richardson, 52, was arrested for tampering with evidence. Investigators say she was trying to hid the fake badge in the woods behind their house when they showed up to make the arrest. Trabish is also accused of tampering with evidence in the case.