Roadside crooks prey on Hampshire drivers

Police have sealed off part of Selborne
Police have sealed off part of Selborne
Crystal Collins, left, and Sharon Newell with some of the children by the pond 

Picture: Malcolm Wells (171116-8678)

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Motorists have been conned out of cash by gangs targeting drivers on Hampshire’s roads.

Police say that in the past four months they have received 65 reports of thefts on highways across the county.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: ‘The scammers generally operate in lay-bys on main routes and junctions, especially the M3, M27 and A303.

‘They attempt to flag down motorists, often claiming they are out of fuel. They state they have no cash or have lost or left their wallet elsewhere and will offer gold jewellery or, in some cases, a watch in exchange for money.’

Of the 65 incidents reported to police, motorists were conned out of cash on 11 occasions. The amounts of cash vary from £10 up to £200 on one occasion.

Detective Superintendent Paul Barton said: “It seems the offenders in these cases are preying on the good nature of their victims. Sadly, some people willingly handed over cash thinking the offer would benefit them. However the gold is fake, often highly polished copper made to look like gold. The goods they offer are practically worthless.

“Thankfully, in the majority of reports we’ve heard about, the people contacting us did not take up the offer and were not duped.

“Tackling and disrupting organised crime is a priority for the force and it’s believed that the offenders are involved in such groups operating across the country.

“I hope the actions of these few criminals do not dissuade people from offering help at the side of the road to others who genuinely need it.”

Police said drivers spotting someone acting suspiciously at the roadside should call police immediately and, if possible, please take down the registration number of the vehicle.

A police spokesman said: ‘If you suspect someone’s request for help isn’t genuine, don’t be afraid to refuse, especially if you think that person is trying to scam you, and call police immediately.

‘If you have been a victim and haven’t yet come forward, please contact the police as soon as possible because you may be able to help with our enquiries and trace the people doing this.’

Police can be contacted on 101.