Surveillance video caught the quick scam, which happened in less than 10 minutes.
A white unmarked tow truck pulled up, went unnoticed by shoppers exiting an Alappattah Goodwill store, and picked up a big-ticket item from the parking lot: a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
"When I see my car not in the parking I say, 'Oh my God! My car!'" Justina Rubio said when NBC 6 last spoke with her a week ago.
The senior citizen was so upset she couldn't eat. She believes the car that she worked hard to buy and own was stolen by a bogus tow truck driver as she shopped. But now, her 1995 Grand Cherokee is back, parked in the driveway of her home where it belongs.
"Now I'm happy. Very, very happy!," she says.
She's not the only one. Her granddaughter is excited to get to back to Girl Scouts meetings.
"I saw the car and started screaming. I thought it was a dream," Kyra Robertson said.
Thanks to an anonymous tip, just two days after the story aired on NBC 6, Miami Police found Rubio's car stranded, with damage to the ignition, near West 10th Avenue and 77th Street in Hialeah.
"If it was a legiminate company and it had been towed for a good reason, it would have been found at an impound lot quickly and without any damage," said Jose Rubio, the victim's son.
The tow truck passed right in front of Patty Rodriguez's hot dog stand. She said the man that walked out of the truck filled out paper work and looked official.
"No one would have suspected him," Rodriguez said in Spanish.
Though the tow truck drove away before Rubio could see it, experts say a legitimate tow truck should always have a visible Department of Transportation number to prove it's certified and licensed. There should also be company information like an address and phone number somewhere on the vehicle.
Repossession trucks are often unmarked, but even they should have an "R" number, or repo number, visible.
Rubio's Grand Cherokee was returned in one piece for the most part. The Rubios are grateful the thief's moment in the spotlight may helped saved the family car.
"It was on TV, people were able to see it and that's the only reason we got it back," said Jose Rubio. He believes the thief dumped the car once his crime made the news.
If you have any information that can help police in this case, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
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