SoCal residents and visitors take note of this new type of highway robbery happening between 1:30 AM-5 AM.
During an episode of The Smoking Tire Podcast earlier this month (Oct 2022) co-host Zack Klapman described a situation where one of his BMW M5 driving acquaintance’s had a friend drive his car for him to a shop around 4 AM.
While taking an off-ramp somewhere in LA his friend ran over something that, upon closer inspection at a nearby gas station, caused body, suspension and tire damage.
His friend called the police and found out that his situation sounded a lot like a new type of highway robbery that’s going around where robbers are intentionally placing black painted bricks, safes (fireproof Brinks-type safes,) and other heavy objects on the inside corners of highway off-ramps for you to run over.
Listen to Klapman re-tell the story and get into all the details on that episode of the TST podcast, video below (34:16 timestamp.)
“A friend of his was driving this car around 4 AM,” Klapman says.
“They were taking an off ramp and all of a sudden the person driving feels this huge *KA-CHUNK* and the left side of his car hops in the air like a foot. They come to a stop and, since the car was still driving straight, they get off the exit and go to a gas station.”
“The left side of the bumper’s gone, tires are flat, and suspension parts are bent. They call the police and they learn this is a new type of robbery scam happening in Los Angeles.”
“What they do is they take a safe, brick, or something heavy and spray paint it black and then between the hours of 1:30 AM and 4 AM, they’ll put it on the inside corners at highway exits and their hope is someone exiting with no cars around will have a flat tire.”
“You pull over to look and they rob you.”
Variants of this scam
Flat tire scams like this are nothing new and have been happening with certain variations.
In 2019, The Daily Breeze wrote about a flat tire scam happening around El Segundo where scammers will intentionally flatten a victim’s tire while parked and, after they drive away, a “Good Samaritan” will point out the flat.
While you’re busy and distracted changing it out for a spare, someone will go into your car to rob you of your belongings.
In 2017, a Redditor described how another so-called Good Samaritan pulled up next to him while he was driving and warned him his tire was flat, when in reality, it wasn’t. He wonders how, if he pulled over to inspect his tire, he would’ve ended up getting robbed.
With this new highway exit robbery scheme these scammers are getting smarter, making sure they get victims to stop within a certain area.
Klapman’s Co-Host Matt Farah does point out that with this type of highway robbery, there’s an element of randomness.
“What if they get like a ’94 (Chevy) Lumina that’s like, a hoarders,” Farah comments. “Now you’ve got some s*** box on the side of the road full of garbage.”
If you drive around a lot in the pre-dawn, early hours of the morning, pay special attention at highway off-ramps.
Maybe don’t hug the curve so much and, if you happen to be so unlucky to run over something, if you safely can, limp over to a gas station or other well lighted area instead of stopping in that immediate area to inspect the damage.