Fact Check

Arlington Car Robbery

Criminal gangs in Arlington are staging medical emergencies to lure drivers out of their cars and rob them?

Published May 13, 2009

Claim:   Criminal gangs in Arlington are staging medical emergencies to lure drivers out of their cars and rob them.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2009]

I want to share with you all what happened to my next-door neighbor, Dennis, on Friday night in Arlington .

About 9:30 he was driving east on Washington (north Arlington) and felt like he was being followed. The car ahead of him kept speeding up and then slowing down. Suddenly the car ahead of him stopped & the driver fell out of the car and appeared to be having a seizure. Dennis stopped to try to help him and as he reached to open his door, he realized that his door was being jerked open and he was beaten on his head with about 8 blows. The guy demanded Dennis' wallet and jumped back into his car and BOTH cars sped away. This happened in a matter of seconds. Thankfully, Dennis was not hurt too badly, but his face is swollen so that you would not recognize him. It is awful. He was very lucky that the guys didn't have a knife or gun. They were about 20 years old. It was the guy in the car BEHIND Dennis that beat him.

Dennis was close to home and drove home immediately and called the police. They came out and brought the Gang Unit with them. Dennis was advised that this is happening very often and he asked why the public wasn't being made aware of it. He was then told that since that part of Arlington is the entertainment district, they don't want the word out because they are afraid it will hurt attendance at events in that area. The police did ask him to tell people if this happens to them, to drive off, not to stop,and to call 911 immediately.

I was telling a friend about this on Saturday and he said that he knows a couple in South Arlington who had this same thing happen to them the same week on Sublett in S. Arlington.

Be careful out there!!!


Origins:   A crime like the one detailed above, involving criminals who faked a medical emergency in order to lure a good samaritan out of his car and rob him, took place in Arlington, Texas, in May 2009. However, according to Deputy Chief Barry L. Hines of the Arlington Police Department, this incident was not, as claimed in a widely circulated e-mail account, something that "is happening very often" in the Arlington area but which is being covered up because "they are afraid it will hurt attendance at events in that area," nor is there as yet any evidence that the crime was gang-related:

I would like to respond to a viral email that was recently distributed. In the email, it insinuates a violent crime spree was not being reported by the Arlington Police Department. Please be confident that the police department will communicate these kinds of concerns to you and the community directly and not rely on viral third-party emails.

On Friday May 8, 2009, at about 11 p.m., a robbery offense occurred on Washington Drive in North Arlington. One suspect in the offense staged a

medical emergency to draw attention. When a Good Samaritan stopped, a second suspect approached him, assaulted the man, and took his money. Crimes of this nature are rare. The police department is not aware of any similar occurrences in Arlington and contrary to some reports; it does not appear to be gang-related. Detectives working a special detail were close to the location when the call was received thus responded immediately to the scene. There is no spike or trend involving this nor any other violent or persons-related type of crime in the Entertainment District as was reported. Detectives and patrol officers are following up on leads and are working to solve this crime.

My message to you and the public is always be aware of your surroundings. Criminals often look for ways to distract people or play on their emotions as a way to victimize them. This type of criminal use many tactics, including asking for help in a lottery scam via email or distracting you, while somebody steals your purse. These crimes happen in all cities, so while being friendly and helpful is an admirable Texas trait you should also be cautious.

Deputy Chief Barry L. Hines, B.A., M.S.
Arlington Police Department - North Police District
Ott Cribbs Public Safety Center
620 West Division Street
Arlington, Texas 76011
Email: barry.hines@arlingtontx.gov

An Arlington Police Department press release also noted that some of the details in the second-hand e-mailed account were inaccurate:

An email has been circulating based on a true event that has been altered to include some erroneous information. Here are the true facts of this robbery:

On Friday, May 8, at about 11 p.m. a man stopped at an ATM in North Arlington to withdraw some cash. When he left the ATM, he pulled onto the street near the intersection of Washington and Lincoln and stopped behind a light-colored Chevrolet Impala that might have been a late 1970s model. The Impala did not pull into the street when it was the driver's turn to go. The man noticed that the Impala's driver door was open and the driver was grabbing his throat as if choking. So the man got out of his vehicle to assist. When he opened his door, he was hit in the head and face by a second man, and his wallet was stolen. The robbery suspect fled into a nearby apartment complex and the driver of the Impala drove away.

The victim in this case has talked to police since the email has started circulating and he has said that many of the details in it are wrong.

  • The gang unit did not respond to this incident. A couple of officers, who were working a gang detail were in the area, and went to the robbery scene to assist. There is no indication that gangs were involved in this case.
  • A family member of the victim told a neighbor that this sort of thing happens all the time. Somewhere along the way that changed to an officer saying that this sort of thing happens all the time and that officers don't want to get the word out for fear of scaring folks away from the Entertainment District. The victim and neighbors have said no officer ever said that.
  • Contrary to the email claiming that at one other incident similar to this occurred about one week ago, Arlington has not had any similar situation of a robbery where someone encounters a medical situation and is robbed. This is not a trend.

  • Last updated:   13 May 2009

    David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.