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Be wary of the modern day highway robbers; Drive talking.

BRITAIN'S rural highways were once the haunt of the highwayman, the chap on the big horse with a pair of flintlock pistols, a mask and a tricorn hat, who would hold up the mailcoach with the shout of 'Stand and deliver!' But all that took place centuries ago and you would think such a menace had long been hanged at Tyburn or caged in a gibbet.

However, there is a new type of highwayman out there with a different but just as wicked way of making you part with your cash.

Gone are the flintlocks, horse, mask and hat, and in its place is a seemingly broken down car and a demand for cash for petrol often in exchange for cheap, tatty jewellery.

Police in some parts of the country are on the lookout for traps set by these con merchants, sometimes on rural roads and occasionally on major highway slip roads. The approaching driver sees a car with its bonnet up with the driver flagging down approaching vehicles.

The usual script is that the car has run out of petrol and the driver has no cash or card. Often they say they are salesman and are prepared to part with some of their 'precious' samples for cash.

The more oily variety heaps praise on the driver for stopping and gives the samples as a token of thanks and then demands money.

It's a new take on the greasy continental salesman hit in which two sharp suited con men, who appear to speak little English stop and ask the way to the airport.

When you tell them they are so grateful that they explain that they are leather goods company executives and hand over rubbish leather jacket samples that they don't want to take on the plane. When you accept them they follow it up by saying that they have spent all their English money and need cash for petrol.

The golden rule is not to stop for these people - just drive off after taking the car number noting a description of the person and tell the police immediately.

By Ian Johnson
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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