ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – “We’re really just asking ourselves, yeah, there’s a low cost of living but can we afford the crime that happens in this city.” Ben Renfro has had not one, but two cars stolen from his home near Central and Tramway in the past two years. The last theft was Tuesday, but this time he took matters into his own hands.
“I have heard stories of people losing their cars and reaching out to APD and having it be a very long process to find it, if ever, and so I just wanted to reach out to a lot of different areas so I posted on Reddit, I posted on a couple of different Facebook groups,” he said.
From that Reddit post, someone private messaged him saying to check out the Trackers_Inc Instagram account. Apparently, it helped find that person’s stolen vehicle. So he sent the account a message and that’s when things took a turn.
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“A few hours later, that same day, they got back to us and said we had found the car, but that we needed to pay them $400 dollars to do so. They showed us proof that they had the car, it was a picture, a very grainy black and white photo and on that picture, there were coordinates that they had tried to scratch out,” said Renfro.
Renfro says he was confused because from the get-go when he asked about the services and how they work, nothing was said about a fee. “I thought it was a scam. I thought maybe that’s the person who stole my car, is this page that’s finding it extremely quickly, quicker than the police were able to, and then saying they need $400 dollars to be able to proceed by giving this information to the police,” he said. “In my opinion, I think it is a scam, but even if it’s not, it’s definitely a very predatory practice when someone asks specifically how the service works and you don’t mention a cost, and then when the car is found you say that the cost is $400 dollars.”
He used those partial coordinates to try and track it down himself. When typing it in Google, it took him to Bernalillo where he spent hours searching for his car with no luck. That’s when Albuquerque Police called and said they found his car near Central and San Pedro full of drugs, stolen goods, and a 29-year-old man inside who was arrested. The car suffered major damage that will eventually get fixed but Renfro’s just thankful he’s not shelling out even more money to a potential scam.
“It wasn’t a nice car, it was an old car, definitely worth more than $400 dollars but not by a huge margin to where we’re paying to get a car back when it wasn’t our fault it was stolen in the first place. The car was locked, there was nothing in it, it’s everything that you’re told to do,” he said.
APD says this is likely a scam, an account should not be claiming they located a vehicle and seeking money in exchange.