'Wobbly wheel' scam artists accused of setting wheel on fire while child was in car

HOUSTON – Police said two brothers accused of running a "wobbly wheel" scam in the Houston area went as far as to set a woman's wheel on fire while her child was in the vehicle.

The brothers are accused of tricking people into thinking something is wrong with their vehicle and then charging them to fix it.

In a recent case, police said, Guliano Christopher Thomson and Speed Lorenzo Thompson approached a victim's vehicle on Bellaire Boulevard and said the front right tire on her Jeep was on fire.

"In my mind, I thought he was a mechanic, and he knew what he was doing," the victim said.

She said she wanted to believe the men.

"He said that my car was on fire and my wheel was fixing to fall off if I didn't get off the road immediately," she said.

The victim said the brothers checked the tire and when she walked around it was smoking. She said one of the brothers claimed to have fixed the tire and offered to take the vehicle on a test run. Cameras installed inside the vehicle caught the interaction on video.

The man drove to a bank and told the victim she owed them $400.

"He took me to a Bank of America ATM right away, and he said, 'You gotta pay me for the part,'" she said. "He didn't know that I had already called my husband and that my husband was connected to my Air Pod and listening to the whole conversation."

When the victim told the brother that her husband was on the way, he ran. The victim said he was nervous the whole time.

"He was sweating all over the place and shaking," she said.

When the woman went to an auto shop, she was told there were no issues with the vehicle, but there was evidence that someone had set the wheel on fire.

The victim said she wants others to learn from her experience.

"You should really watch who you believe," she said.

Charges have been filed against the brothers. They're each charged with arson and endangering a child. Speed Lorenzo Thompson, 24, has been arrested. Guliano Christopher Thomson, 31, is not in custody.

Even though the suspects have different last name spellings, police said, they are brothers.

Anyone who thinks they've been in contact with the brothers is asked to call the Houston Police Department's Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

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