SAN LEANDRO — A brand-new 37-inch Sony flat screen television for $100? Great deal — until you take it out of the box and realize you just bought an oven door.
San Leandro police Lt. Pete Ballew called it a variation on the old "rocks in a box" scam, in which a box is presented as containing new, expensive electronics for sale but is actually full of rocks.
On Wednesday San Leandro police pulled over a man who had in his car a box containing what appeared to be an expensive 37-inch flat-screen television, but in actuality was a glass oven door cleverly disguised as a TV. The man is suspected of trying to sell the item for $100 in the parking lot of the San Lorenzo Wal-Mart, 15555 Hesperian Blvd.
"It was very ingenious," Ballew said. "If you were a bargain hunter, you might think, 'Wow, this is the deal of the day.'""
Police got an anonymous call Wednesday from someone who raised suspicions about a man who tried to sell him a television out of his beige 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The witness said the seller told him he had bought the TV for $60 at a flea market.
Later, Sgt. Luis Torres stopped the Cutlass after spotting it driving through San Leandro. The driver, Anthony Myles, 52, of Richmond, was arrested for driving on a suspended license. No charges were filed against Myles' passenger, a 53-year-old man.
The television in question was in the back of the car wrapped in packaging material. It had installation instructions on the back, a Best Buy price sticker for $1,949 and accompanying electric cables. Police confiscated the item, but no charges were filed in relation to its attempted sale.
"In today's economy, people are looking to save costs," Ballew said. "People will buy the story that people need to make rent and sold their TV on the cheap. But if you think you're getting something for nothing, you're probably getting nothing for something."
Ballew said to call police if you suspect someone is attempting to sell you fake merchandise.
Jason Sweeney covers San Lorenzo. Reach him at 510-293-2469.