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The Houston Police Department Major Offenders Division would like to make citizens aware of a scam gaining popularity in the Houston area, dubbed the "wobbly wheel" scam.
In this scam, conmen erroneously advise victims that one of their vehicle's wheels is loose or damaged and then force the victim to pay for a repair.
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 roadside service directly. Citizens are also cautioned not to pull over when motioned to by an unknown driver. If a citizen feels there is a problem with his or her vehicle, pull over in a well-lighted, populated area to examine the issue.
Recent reported cases include:
600 Southwest Freeway - August 28 at 3 p.m.
1000 Studemont - August 21 at 1:20 p.m.
2106 Swift - February 1 at 1 p.m.May 20 at 10:30 a.m.
409 Tabor - May 20 at 10:30 a.m.
Anyone victimized in this scam is urged to report it to the HPD Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100.
At 2 p.m. TODAY (Thursday, September 26), investigators with the HPD Major Offenders Division will be available to answer questions and provide safety tips regarding the "wobbly wheel" scam in the Media Briefing Room on the first floor of HPD Headquarters at 1200 Travis.
NOTE: MEDIA PERSONNEL MUST ENTER THE BUILDING THROUGH THE PUBLIC ENTRANCE AT 1200 TRAVIS, GO THROUGH THE METAL DETECTORS AND PRESENT A VALID IDENTIFICATION BEFORE BEING ESCORTED TO THE BRIEFING ROOM.