By Jeff Lehr
A pair of men running a three-card monte game Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of the Petro Truck Stop on Interstate 44 robbed two truck drivers of $5,300, according to a Joplin police report.
Cpl. Chuck Niess said an officer was called to the truck stop in midafternoon about two strong-arm robberies that had taken place within half an hour.
The first victim, of Ashley, Neb., told the officer that he was approached by a group of men who were playing cards on the lot near his truck.
“They asked him to play, but he had to show them some money first,” Niess said.
He said the driver went inside the truck stop and withdrew $300 cash from an ATM to join in the game. He complained to the officer that they took the money from him, but never let him play, even when he threatened to go call police.
Niess said a second truck driver, of East Peoria, Ill., reported being approached in a similar manner at the same location a short time later. That driver was returning to the game with $5,000 in hand, when he noticed that it was three-card monte, an old swindler’s game involving the palming of a card, that the men were playing.
“He didn’t want any part of that,” Niess said. “But when he turned to leave, one of them grabbed him and held him while the other grabbed his money.”
The second driver told police that he fought with the two men and chased them across the parking lot, but they managed to give him the slip.
The second driver described one of them as being about 30 years old, with a face that seemed older. He described the other as about 20 and skinny.
Police Cpl. Chuck Niess said an officer determined that the robbers might have left the truck stop in a black Chevrolet.