Rural road breakdown scam warning

Published
image captionDrivers have been warned about the scam being carried out by men claiming their car has no fuel

Police have warned drivers on remote roads about a "distraction" theft scam being attempted by men claiming their car has run out of fuel.

It follows incidents on Thursday in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

The first took place on the B709 from Innerleithen to Heriot at 1045 GMT with the others in Langholm at 1400 GMT.

The scam consists of one man offering goods for sale to distract a driver while another member of the group tries to take goods from their person or car.

In the first incident in the Borders a motorist was waved down by four men, thought to be North Africans, standing beside a dark Audi A4.

They claimed to have run out of fuel and requested help.

Police said they then tried to offer items of jewellery for sale but the motorist drove off.

The man who did the talking has been described as being about 40, with dark, short, tight-curled hair, a swarthy complexion and a French accent.

Two similar incidents then happened in Langholm, just across the border in Dumfries and Galloway.

The men approached a customer in a petrol station and tried to sell jewellery and a short time later flagged down a lone female driver, again claiming to have run out of fuel.

The woman had previously encountered the technique and on this occasion she spoke to the men through a partially-open window, declining to help them, before driving off.

'Unscrupulous individuals'

Lothian and Borders Police said similar incidents had been reported to them in the past where people claimed to have run out of fuel in order to distract a driver and steal items from their vehicle.

Sgt Eddie Kelly said it showed the lengths "unscrupulous individuals" would go to in order to exploit the "good nature and willingness of decent people to help others".

"Fortunately on this occasion, the motorists targeted by these males took the right course of action and left safely," he said.

"If you are flagged down in these circumstances, lock your doors on approach and open the window just enough to allow conversation.

"Do not leave your vehicle unless you are satisfied that the person you are speaking to is genuine and you are prepared to help."

He said reporting incidents to the police could prevent others falling victim to "this type of criminal activity".

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