Suspect from Highway 6 kidnapping stemmed from pointing out victim's tire trouble now in custody

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, 30-year-old Sonny John is now in custody, accused of kidnapping and robbing a man on March 19 in southwest Harris County as part of a familiar "wobbly wheel" crime.

John is currently being held in the Harris County Jail on an open warrant, after being captured in a pursuit with a local agency.

A man driving on Highway 6 last month was held at knife and gunpoint by another man whom investigators said offered to help with the victim's tire trouble.

Crime Stoppers of Houston released surveillance video images of the victim and suspect as the crime was being committed on March 19 in the 6600 block of South Highway 6 in southwest Harris County.

According to investigators, John got the attention of the 55-year-old victim by pointing at the victim's tire. Both men then pulled into a parking lot, where the suspect told the victim something was wrong with the tire.

Then, investigators say, John grabbed tools from his truck and began tapping the tire. John then claimed that the tire was fixed and that he needed payment of $500.

The victim told John that he didn't have any money, prompting the suspect to grab a knife and gun and hold them to the victim.

John demanded the victim drive to a local Walgreens store, where he followed him to the ATM inside. The surveillance video above shows John entering the store behind the victim and holding a weapon to his back.

The victim later contacted two friends who brought the victim some money to give to the suspect.

The photo from Crime Stoppers of Houston shows the suspect in a kidnapping and robbery that took place in southwest Harris County on March 19, 2022.

While Crime Stoppers didn't use it by name in describing this case, the incident follows a pattern described in "wobbly wheel" robberies. According to law enforcement, the suspects would follow a victim and honk or yell that their front wheel is loose. If the victim pulled off the roadway, the suspects would then convince them the wheel could be fixed with a part they happen to have with them.

According to investigators, the suspects would then ask to be reimbursed for the part after repairing the wheel and would drive the victims to a bank or ask for payment in gift cards.

Wobbly wheel was mentioned last month by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg when she announced a six-year prison term for a suspect in a separate but similar case.

"These fraudsters targeted innocent drivers by acting as good Samaritans to take advantage of people's good nature," Ogg said. "To add to the deception, they even used their own families and kids to bolster the lie."

Investigators are urging the public to come forward if they were a victim of this suspect. They can call the Violent Crime Unit at 713-274-9100. Additionally, Crime Stoppers may pay up to $5,000 for information leading to charges and/or the arrest of the suspect. Information can be submitted by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477) or at the Crime Stoppers website.


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