A man who took “an erratic joyride” in a police van, after finding it outside a police station with the engine running, has been jailed.
Sean Warman, 28, turned on the vehicle’s blue lights, stole Indian food and demanded money from a motorist while posing as a police officer.
Ipswich Crown Court heard the marked Vauxhall Vivaro was taken in Lowestoft and found abandoned 15 miles away.
Warman was jailed for 25 months and disqualified for three years.
Prosecutor Stephen Mather said the van had been left outside the police station on 10 November with the keys in the ignition to charge a flat battery.
Officers received reports of the van being driven erratically, Judge Martyn Levett said, and Warman had activated the blue lights to pull one driver over.
Warman, of Park Road, Lowestoft, stopped Marian Muntenu and demanded £30 from him.
“Such is the respect for the police in Suffolk that this person handed over £50,” Judge Levett said.
The court heard Warman, who once worked for turkey producer Bernard Matthews, also stole an Indian meal from a delivery driver during his illegal excursion.
When the police van was found abandoned at 01:00 the next day, it had an “overwhelming stench of Indian food” after the takeaway had spilt.
The van was badly dented and scuffed and the police radio had been smashed, the court heard.
Judge Levett said Warman later walked into a pub in Bungay and was heard to say: “I’m going to prison. I’ve stolen a police van.”
He told the defendant: “This undermines the honesty and integrity of our police force and it destroys public confidence in their strongly held beliefs that officers in this county are honest.
“It might lead to their future lack of co-operation in future matters of investigation.”
Warman admitted a series of offences including aggravated vehicle taking and two counts of impersonating a police officer.