Update on the “Fix-Your-Car” Scammer
The notorious fix-your-car scammer, Pedro Soto, has been back out of jail for a month now. Soto became the subject of a police search stemming from a June 2014 incident, when he pulled his car disablement scam on the victim and then allegedly robbed him by claiming to have a gun in his pocket. Once he “fixed” the car, he allegedly directed the victim to a nearby convenience store to buy cigarettes under the threat having a gun in his pocket. The victim reported to police of having been robbed of financial cards, personal identification documents, and $300 in cash during the episode. Once police issued an alert to the community, he was eventually arrested on 7/15/2015 on several charges including Armed Robbery, Kidnapping, and Aggravated Assault. When his case came to trial, the charges were very heavily downgraded from the aforementioned felonies to a single misdemeanor charge of Theft By Deception. Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams sentenced him to time already served in jail. He was released back into the community on 2/10/2015.
Since at least 2010 we have been receiving reports about people who have been victimized by this vehicle disablement scam as they shopped at area businesses. Local media outlets have run numerous stories over the years about the fix-your-car scams in our area, and he was arrested on some of those occasions. He crawls underneath the vehicle to disconnect a cable in the engine area in order to disable the victim’s vehicle. When the victim is unable to start the vehicle upon return, this guy simply appears and offers to “fix” the vehicle for some cash. He seems to target high clearance vehicles, such as SUV’s. Soto also goes by numerous aliases, including Orlando Hernandez and Roberto Aguilar. He is originally from Cuba, hence the description of “island accent” frequently cropping up in suspect descriptions. He has 28 bookings for the Fulton County jail alone for things like Criminal Trespass, various theft offenses, and drug possession. For several years Midtown Tire, one of our community sponsors for the patrol, has regularly been receiving calls for assistance related to this scam, but his latest jail stay coincided perfectly with the longest period without reports of the car repair scam.
If you return to your car and find it disabled:
- Call Midtown Tire at 404-874-1112 – they will send someone out to reconnect the cable on the house.
- At night, call AAA instead (AAA can be quite a life-saver and is well worth the annual fee!) and have them come out.
- If you have a high-clearance vehicle parking by pulling through or backing into a space – this keeps the front undercarriage out in the open.
- In any case do not accept help from a stranger wishing to “fix” your car.
Some pictures of this individual: