'Sliders' ripping off Austin drivers at the gas pump

AUSTIN -- Police say thieves have found a quick and easy way to get their hands on your valuables while you're at the gas pump. They're calling the crooks "sliders." It happened just last week at a northwest Austin gas station.

by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist Erin Coker

AUSTIN -- Police say thieves have found a quick and easy way to get their hands on your valuables while you're at the gas pump. They're calling the crooks "sliders." It happened just last week at a northwest Austin gas station.

When you're at the pump thieves see an opportunity to snatch your valuables right out of your car.

"It's very quick," described one Austin woman.

On Friday morning she stopped to get gas. Like many people she was distracted and unsuspecting at the pump.

"You're in your own environment, you're in your neighborhood, you feel safe, you feel comfortable," she said.

She went inside to pay then came back out to fill up her tank. Surveillance video shows a car pull in a parking spot behind her. The thieves, lurking in the background, waiting for the right time to pounce.

"In the rear view mirror I had been watching this car that I couldn't figure out what they were doing," she explained.

They slowly pull up, grab her purse, and they're off. It's that easy.

This time it happened at a gas station in northwest Austin. Crimes like these are on the rise across the country.

Police call them sliders. Surveillance video from a Houston gas station shows the crooks slide up, grab the goods and flee.

Unlocked doors and open windows make for an easy target.

In last week's case in Austin a man notices the thieves and yells at the woman to turn around, but it was too late.

"I'm banging on the back end of the car saying 'give me my purse back!'" described the woman.

This victim wants her identity hidden because this crime doesn't end at the gas station; the suspects showed up at her house that night.

"I confronted him and said 'excuse me, can I help you?'" she said. "He immediately starts running. When he starts running is when I could piece it all together because he was running to the car that was the exact same car that robbed me in the morning."

She hopes her misfortune can at least serve as a warning to other drivers.

"I didn't lock the door, that's my stupidity. I'm paying the price," she said.

So police say to lock your doors and hide valuables even if your standing next to your car.

Austin police say just an hour later the sliders robbed another unsuspecting driver at a gas station on Wells Branch Parkway. Investigators think the same people may be responsible for both crimes.

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