Albuquerque police issue warning about thief targeting drivers

[anvplayer video=”5196371″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police are warning people of a thief who is targeting drivers by telling them their vehicle has a “wobbly” tire.

According to APD, the man approaches drivers, warns them that one of their tires is wobbly, and offers to fix it. Then, the thief reaches into the vehicle and grabs their purses.

KOB 4 spoke to a woman who fell victim to this scam.

At first, she thought a man was just being nice, warning her of a flat tire. But by the time she realized something was wrong, it was too late.

“Somebody taps my window, and they told me I had a flat tire, and I didn’t pay attention to him. He said ‘You have a flat tire, I’ll fix it for you.’”

A woman – who does not want to be identified – says she was leaving a shopping center when she was approached by a man who eventually convinced her to get out of her car:

“He said ‘Do you have a spare tire?’ And I said ‘I don’t think so.’ But he said ‘Well, let’s look and see if you have a spare tire.’ So I went around to the back and looked, and he looked too, and I didn’t have a spare tire.”

But she didn’t have a flat tire either.

“While this individual is at least pretending to look at their tire, which actually is just fine, another person – an accomplice of his – is entering the victim’s vehicle and stealing purses from their vehicle, and then they flee the area,” said APD Lt. Sean Frick. 

“So I came home, and I took my groceries out of the car at home, and I went back to get my wallet and my phone, and they were gone. That’s what happened. It happened just like that. I didn’t see the other person that took it or anything.”

Another victim wrote to KOB 4 saying they were hit by this scam at the Trader Joe’s parking lot in Uptown:

“They told me my wheel was about to fall off, but when I stepped out to look, a little girl grabbed my purse.”

APD says they have received at least six reports of this scam, mostly happening in the Northeast Heights. They say they have never had to deal with a scam like this before.

“This is a bit unique. Never seen anything quite like this before. We have seen people try to lure victims into situations to take advantage of them. Never really had one though, where people are driving down the road and being flagged down and contacted by the offender like this,” said Frick. 

Both police and the victims describe the scammer as a short, skinny Hispanic man in his 40s driving a white sedan or a U-Haul truck.

Police say you can protect yourself by being suspicious of people who approach your car, and by always locking your vehicle if you step out.

If you have any information you are asked to call 242-COPS.