Rumours online claim that sex traffickers are marking cars belonging to lone females with zip ties, as a way of luring them out of their cars so they can be subsequently abducted.
Examples of the warning can be seen below –
Women I need your attention if you notice a zip tie on your car, mail box, fence, ECT. They’re used by sex traffickers to note your a women who’s alone. Don’t take them off when you immediately see it. Wait until you get to a different destination because they’re trying to distract you by getting it off then abducting you. Same thing goes if you find something on your windshield, it’s a distraction so they have time to get you. Ladies please be careful and stay vigilant.
To everyone in San Angelo especially LADIES check your cars houses everything pls to see if there zip ties. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Such panicked and alarming messages that purport to describe the latest or most popular current methods of kidnapping or abducting victims are extremely popular on the Internet, and fall under the umbrella of “scarelore”.
The problem with such messages is that while the particular method described is potentially feasible, the messages are still either embellished, exaggerated, baseless or just simply false. The warning here about using zip ties to lure female motorists from their cars appears to be false, since it was originally referring to an area in Texas that was subsequently debunked by the local police force in that area back in 2018.
The San Angelo Police Department has not received any reports of human trafficking, kidnappings or attempted kidnappings relating to human trafficking nor have we received any reports of black zip ties being used as a means to mark a target of any type of crime.
As with other similar examples of kidnapping scarelore, such as the baby car seat, the crying child by side of the road, the plastic bottle in wheelwell or the $100 bill variants, while the tactic described in the warning is theoretically possible, there is no evidence that it has ever occurred, let alone a new or trending method of criminal activity. In this case, not only was the warning dismissed by authorities in the area it originally referred to, online searches fail to locate any other crimes committed that match the warning.
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As such, spreading a specific warning about across the Internet is largely pointless. Internet users or those vulnerable to such a crime would be better served with more generic and common sense advice on how to avoid situations in which they could potentially find themselves in danger, including robbery, kidnapping and sex trafficking, which of course are all genuine concerns.
Yes, be cautious of your surroundings, and if you believe someone is trying to trick or lure you out of your vehicle in an isolated area, lock your doors and drive away. But equally so, don’t spread misinformed or alarmist warnings on the Internet, which only serve to detract from serious issues.