By: Alison Grande, KIRO 7 News
The Washington State Patrol is working to crack a crime ring that’s been targeting unsuspecting drivers on local freeways.
Investigators say the suspects pull their car to the side of a freeway or ramp with the hazard lights on. They pretend to be out of gas and wait for drivers to stop to help them. The suspects start by asking for cash for gas, then quickly start a high-pressure story that uses children as pawns, according to detectives.
The Washington State Patrol says the suspects are part of an organized crime ring. The suspects say they need money to get back to New York, saying their children are hungry. They start a high pressure sales pitch that includes selling the victims gold jewelry that turns out to be fake.
There have been 45-50 incidents in King County in the last year. Victims have lost as much as $10,000. The case is hard to solve because the suspects keep changing as do their vehicles.
Investigators say the suspects use rental cars and are believed to have police scanners because once police start to respond, the suspects disappear.
“It is very frustrating because the key part is, it’s a dangerous. They’re putting everyone in danger, they’re putting the public in danger, they’re putting themselves in danger. We’re seeing there are kids in the car, they’re putting those kids in danger,” explained Trooper Scott Genoway.
Troopers are asking for the public’s help. Investigators say if you are approached or witness suspicious activity to take photos of the people and vehicles, if you can do so safely, and contact the Washington State Patrol. If you have any information you think will help investigators contact Trooper Rick Johnson, email@example.com.