He's well spoken. He's clean cut. He's personable. And he steals your car.
That's what police here say about the so-called Good Samaritan car thief, a tall, attractive motorist who stops drivers to warn them of a (nonexistent) wobbly wheel or flaming exhaust. When they get out to inspect, he jumps into the empty driver's seat and takes off.
Since late June, he has victimized at least 21 motorists hereabout, most of them older women traveling alone, according to police.
He's got police stumped and Rose Kempler mad. She was one of two drivers he hoodwinked today.
"He got my purse -- $90 to $100 and credit cards from every store in the state," she said.
Kempler, 69, of suburban Pikesville said she was driving on Smith Avenue when a man in a late model car pulled up parallel to her and started shouting, "Hey, lady, you're losing your left rear wheel."
She stopped, she said, "and when I got out, he said, 'Look at your wheel,' and then next thing, he jumped in my car. Thirty seconds, and it was all over."
A few minutes earlier and only a mile or so away, police say, the man did the same thing to motorist Estelle Hertzbach, 74, and got her purse. Typical of his habit, police said, he used the Hertzbach car only long enough to stop Kempler. He then abandoned Hertzbach's car, motor still running, and took off in Kempler's car. Kempler's car had not been recovered by day's end, police said.
Kempler described the thief as a "tall, good-looking, white man" wearing jeans and a white painter's hat -- almost identical to descriptions by many of the other 20 victims, police said.
"He was well spoken, very clean cut," she said, "the kind of person you'd believe."
"He's making a regular living out of this . . . ," said Baltimore County police spokeswoman Roberta Jackson. "Some people call him the Gentleman Bandit, some call him the Good Samaritan thief . . . . He's very nice, never mean or nasty or threatening."
Police say most of the incidents have occurred in Baltimore and Baltimore County, often at shopping malls or busy intersections.
Kempler, noting her age, said, "I guess he saw I was no spring chicken . . . . I've been driving for 53 years. I feel very lucky. I wasn't hurt. It was only a car. I still say thank God."
Mentioning that she does community charity work, Kempler said, "I've been giving good people help on the street for years." But after today: "No more."