Watch out for the 'wobbly wheel' scam targeting drivers for robberies

September 26, 2013 10:06:48 AM PDT
The Houston Police Department wants to make citizens aware of a scam gaining popularity in the Houston area, dubbed the "wobbly wheel" scam.

In this scam, conmen tell victims one of their vehicle's wheels is loose or damaged, and then force the victim to pay for an unneeded repair.

Police say the scam begins when the suspects approach the victim in a parking lot or attempt to motion the citizen over while driving. In most cases, the suspects then represent themselves as AAA employees or mechanics and offer to address the issue for the victim.

One suspect then pretends to fix the victim's tire while other suspects distract the victim(s). The suspect typically does not receive approval from the victim prior to "working" on the vehicle and the services are not discussed until after the "repair." When the victim protests payment, the suspects pressure the victim into payment by using a large number of suspects as a show of force. Additionally, victims report articles missing from their vehicle after the suspects leave the scene.

HPD officers caution anyone who is told there might be an issue with a vehicle to take it to a licensed mechanic to be examined or to contact AAA or another roadside service directly. Citizens are also cautioned not to pull over when motioned to by an unknown driver. If you feel there is a problem with your vehicle, police advise you to pull over in a well-lighted, populated area to examine the issue.

Recent reported cases include:

  • 600 Southwest Freeway - August 28 at 3pm
  • 1000 Studemont - August 21 at 1:20pm
  • 2106 Swift - February 1 at 1pm
  • 409 Tabor - May 20 at 10:30am

Anyone victimized in this scam is urged to report it to the HPD Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100.


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