When police arrived, the vehicle's owner, with Nichols pretending to be her sister, signed a police report saying the 2005 Ford F150 pickup truck had been stolen outside her home that day, they said.
After police left, Nichols, allegedly using the owner's name, called the police in Chesilhurst, N.J. and said that her car had been stolen in Philadelphia and that she had information that it might be at a specific address, the Attorney General's Office said.
Chesilhurst police found the vehicle at that address and quickly realized, because of the vehicle's condition, that it had not been stolen that day.
When police contacted the vehicle's owner, she told them that Nichols, whom she had never met before, had come to her house, told her the history of the vehicle, and suggested that she again report it stolen.
The investigation was first reported by NBC10.
Nichols, who most recently served as an assistant chief in the Homicide Unit, was arrested Friday by Philadelphia police. She is charged with making false police reports and obstruction of justice.
Nichols was suspended from her job and later resigned, the District Attorney's Office said.
In a statement, District Attorney Seth Williams praised Nichols' work for his office but said he had no choice but to suspend her. "While it is with both professional and personal sadness that I am making this announcement today," he said, "we must maintain the highest standards of conduct in my office, and the legal process must take its course."
He referred all questions about the case to the Attorney General's Office.
Nichols could not immediately be reached for comment.
Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or email@example.com.