The Sacramento police are investigating multiple reports of fender bender robberies. These are crimes where another driver intentionally rear ends a victim with the sole intent of robbing them. One of the first public reports of this activity came out of South Sacramento and another victim from Rocklin is sharing her story in hopes of helping others avoid being a target.
Rocklin resident Rindy Merrifield was eastbound on Business 80 on March 10 when a driver bumped her car from behind. She initially ignored the contact and wasn’t worried about damage to her SUV. Suddenly the same car bumped her car again. Merrifield still wasn’t concerned and kept driving. “He pulled beside me, told me to pull over,” Merrifield said. “So I thought, OK, maybe he did do some damage, and that’s why he wants me to pull over.”
After finding a place to stop near the exit at Cal Expo she got out of her car to speak with the other driver. “I just came around and I looked and I said, ‘…no damage. Just go on your way,’” said Merrifield. “That’s when he said, ‘You know, I really think we should exchange insurances because that’s the right thing to do.” Once Merrifield went to her passenger side door the other driver pushed me away, grabbed her purse, and swatted away her arm – preventing her from retrieving her purse.
It was then that her fight-or-flight reaction to the situation kicked-in. “It was just, ‘How dare you… take my purse!’ and I was bound and determined to get it back or hurt him enough that I could get it,” Merrifield said. Merrifield followed after the driver and repeatedly slamming his own car door on his legs as he was getting away. Her efforts did not stop the thief who escaped with Merrifield’s purse and all its contents including credit cards, cash, car keys and her cell phone. That was the last Merrifield saw of the suspect.
Sacramento police tell KCRA 3, a day later on March 11 a similar fender bender type robbery happened involving a different victim. Later that same day, detectives arrested Hau Nguyen and Phung Nguyen and charged them for that crime. On April 1, police received an arrest warrant for Phung Nguyen for charges related to the March 10 robbery – Merrifield’s case.
California law indicates drivers are required to stop and exchange information after a crash. In a statement to KCRA 3, Sacramento Police Department said: “…We encourage community members concerned with their safety to seek a well-lit populated area to conduct the exchange. Additionally, we encourage all community members to contact 911 any time they feel unsafe when dealing with a similar situation.”
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