Hoaxes & Rumors

Sticker on Car Window Carjacking Scheme: Real or Hoax?

Sticker on Car Window Carjacking Scheme: Real or Hoax?

An ominous warning states that carjackers are placing stickers or a piece of paper on car windows as a way to lure victims out of their cars and rob them. Is this true?

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While this scenario could happen, there have been no reports of it actually ocurring. Let’s take a look at the warning which has circulated for at least 10 years:

The Warning

Below is a variation of the warning which appeared online around 2012.

Warning From Police

This is the new thing these days with people out of work and needing cash. Beware, it’s headed our way.

Just last weekend on Friday night we parked in a public parking area. As we drove away I noticed a sticker on the rear window of the car. When I took it off after I got home, it was a receipt for gas.. Luckily my friend told me not to stop as it could be someone waiting for me to get out of the car.. Then we received this email yesterday:

WARNING FROM POLICE

THIS APPLIES TO BOTH WOMEN AND MEN

Beware of paper on the back window of your vehicle–new way to do carjackings (not a joke)

Heads up everyone! Please, keep this circulating… You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. You start the engine and shift into reverse.

When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your parking space, you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors, and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view. When you reach the back of your car, that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off. They practically mow you down as they speed off in your car.

And guess what, ladies? I bet your purse is still in the car.

So now the carjacker has your car, your home address, your money, and your keys. Your home and your whole identity are now compromised!

BEWARE OF THIS NEW SCHEME THAT IS NOW BEING USED.

If you see a piece of paper stuck to your back window, just drive away. Remove the paper later. And be thankful that you read this e-mail. I hope you will forward this to friends and family, especially to women. A purse contains all kinds of personal information and identification documents, and you certainly do NOT want this to fall into the wrong hands.

Please keep this going and tell all your friends.

The warning above has often circulated in the form of a graphic, seen below.

$100 Bill Variant

In 2013, a variation of the “sticker in the window” warning circulated, this time stating that a $100 bill was being used to lure potential carjacking victims. That warning read:

Heads-Up my Peeps.!… Hey Ya’ll Please beware!….. A friend of ours daughter was coming out of Wal-Mart recently and while she was walking to her car she noticed that a couple of guys were “watching” her, she got into her car and locked her doors. As she was leaving she saw what appeared to be a $100.00 bill on her windshield, she was smart enough not to get out of her car at the time because she remember a email sent to her not that long ago about people putting something on your windshield and when the person gets out to retrieve it they are car jacked…… Here’s a pic of the fake money…. please be careful and “SHARE” to protect the ones you love!

Analysis

Multiple variations of the warnings have been floating around for at least 10 years. Sometimes the object placed in the window is described as a sticker, paper, money, or flyer. In that time, there haven’t been any published reports of this type of carjacking happening. That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen, but there have been no reported incidents which have prompted warnings from police as the graphic above would have us believe. The grammar, and such phrases as “Not a joke!!” are not typical verbiage one would expect in a published, formal police warning. None of the warnings which have circulated over the years have included a link to a reputable news or law enforcement source for corroboration.

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The most common carjacking schemes involve criminals who pretend to be broken down and ask for help, approach cars stopped at a red light, or approach victims as they walk to their cars. Another type of carjacking is the “bump and rob” technique in which a carjacker rear-ends another car in traffic and then robs the victim as information is exchanged. Placing a sticker on the back window and laying in wait for an unknown amount of time would probably not be as efficient for the carjacker as merely walking up to the person before they reached their car.

In 2004, the sheriff’s office in Richland County South Carolina published a memo referring to “The Paper on the Windshield Carjacking Email” as a “hoax, and it should never have been distributed from anyone in our Department. To some on the Internet, scaring innocent people, and tricking them into spreading the fear to others is somehow, funny.”

Carjacking Precautions

The Los Angeles Police Department has an extensive list of carjacking techniques and ways to reduce your risks. Effective prevention includes staying alert, be wary of people who approach you, keeping windows and doors locked at all times, parking in well-lit areas, driving in the center lane, and leaving room to maneuver around other cars when coming to a stop. In its detailed description of carjackings, the LAPD did not mention the “paper in the back window” technique.

In June 2013, the New Orleans Crime Prevention Section published a Facebook post entitled, “How to Avoid Being Carjacked” (which has since been removed). This warning echoed many of the sentiments expressed by the LAPD. It, too, lacked any mention of paper being placed on windshield as a common technique for carjackers.

Bottom Line

The “paper in the window” carjacking warning has circulated for at least 10 years, and several law enforcement organizations have referred to it as a hoax. Carjacking prevention fact sheets by reputable organizations also do not list this technique as a threat.

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