A CUNNING thief with bad teeth snatched a family car after pretending he was interested in buying it.
Mum-of-two Tracey Cross advertised the black Mercedes C180 for sale in the Echo last week.
She was delighted when a potential buyer got in touch and wanted to come and see the vehicle.
She arranged for him to visit the family home in South Hetton on Friday, where she was looking after son Jack, seven, while younger brother Jason, five, was at school and husband Gary, 44, was at work.
But she was left shaken and out of pocket after the hoax buyer suddenly drove off with her car and all its documents while she was seeing to Jack, who is autistic.
The 44-year-old admits she was taken in by the smooth-talking criminal with bad teeth and is warning others to be more careful.
Tracey, a garage cashier from Buttermere Crescent, said: “He introduced himself as John and spent about half-an-hour opening the boot and the bonnet, checking the chassis number, checking the mileage,
“He said, ‘Can I take it for a test drive?’
“I said I would have to go and get my little boy and was about five yards away when he drove off.
“His mobile phone rang twice when he was looking round so there must have been somebody waiting, as he did not come in a car.
“He told me he was in the Army and all about the courses he was doing.
“When I looked at him, it did not fit, but when he was talking, he was gaining my confidence. I feel such a fool. He was so cocky.
“I’ve had to have all the locks changed as he went off with my house keys as well.
“I just thought, he has been in my house and if I had been in the car with the bairn, he might have turfed us out anywhere.
“He did not have a different accent, but he spoke nice and didn’t use slang.
“One thing I did notice when I spoke to him were his teeth – they were deplorable.
“They were all brown with gaps in them.”
Durham Constabulary confirmed the car, with private numberplate BIG 6973, had been reported stolen from an address in South Hetton on Friday.
A spokesman warned car sellers to be on their guard and not to let potential buyers have unsupervised access to car keys and documents.