You're driving down the road in Maine, maybe going a little too fast, and suddenly you see a police cruiser on the side of the road that appears to be set up in a speed trap. But is it?

Recently, I saw this police cruiser on Payne Road in Scarborough, and instinctively hit the brakes to slow down some, even though I wasn't speeding. What I thought was a Maine State Trooper was nothing of the sort.

Jeff Parsons - Townsquare Media
Jeff Parsons - Townsquare Media

It was once a Maine State Police cruiser, but it was privately-owned and therefore missing all its markings and lights. What's the deal?

In Maine (and most states in the country), police departments will auction off old vehicles that anyone can purchase and drive. It's perfectly legal to own a former police vehicle, but some things are done to it before they hand you the keys.

The lights and sirens are removed, as well as the markings that designate it as a police car. Any additional equipment installed in the vehicle for police use is also removed.

Once that's done, civilians can drive the vehicle as long as they don't try to make it look like they are police officers by illegally installing blue lights. Most owners of former police cars know the rules, and don't put things in the vehicles that make them look like actual police cars.

One hint that the car you see is a former police car is if it is a Ford Crown Victoria. They look like this.

Jeff Parsons - Townsquare Media
Jeff Parsons - Townsquare Media

The Maine State Police and many local police departments used Crown Vic's until Ford stopped manufacturing them in 2011. Many departments then switched to SUVs such as the Ford Explorer.

What owners of these former police vehicles often do is set them up so that they look like real police cruisers looking for speeders. The Crown Vic at Hawke's Plaza bounces around the property, making it seem more authentic.

That's a good thing, because both of these former police cruisers are on roads where people often go way too fast.

So if you see these cruisers, it's not the police, but it let it be a reminder to slow down.

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