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5 April 2013, 16:30
Traffic police say they've seen an increase in the number of calls from drivers who've seen - or been the victim of - fake-gold sellers on motorway hard-shoulders.
Assistant Inspector Simon Hills from Thames Valley Police told Heart: "We're getting an increased number of reports of people pulling up on hard shoulders of main roads and motorways - and then the occupants of those vehicles are trying to flag down passing motorists on the pretence they've broken down or run out of fuel and they are then offering to sell the drivers stopping gold and other jewellery items for cash to make the allegedged repairs to their car of fill it up with petrol.
In many cases gold they're told they'll get - never appears - or if it does is fake - and the money they are giving and expecting back at a promised later date, well it's just not happening."
Assistant Inspector Hills added: "At the time people think they're genuninely helping someone in trouble; they come across a vehicle - it appears broken down. The driver says they've got no petrol and offers the passing motorist some chunky or heavy piece of gold, maybe a ring or a necklace for about £20-30. The motorist doesn't think to study it at the time, but it's only when they've gone away they realise what they've bought is a worthless piece of metal.
One of the tactics they use is one of the people from the "broken-down" vehicle - often with what appears to be with a family will step out into the road - in order to wave people down. It puts them in danger. But if a driver takes avoiding action, they can put themsevles and other vehicles in danger."
Simon Hills concluded: "We know one of the most dangerous places on a motorway is on the hard-shoulder; so where people are stopping on the hard-shoulder and be the good samaritan they are putting themselves in danger when they stop to investigate instead of continuing with their journey.
If they contact the police - either ourselves or the Highways Agency can then help them. We want the public to be vigilant and pass us the details of vehicles which are flagging down other drivers from the hard-shoulder.
We can then build-up a better picture of who these people are and investigate if they're linked.
We're seeing problems like this on the M1, the M25 and even more rural country roads like the A418 between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury."