A warning is spreading on social media that claims to show a potential carjacking scam where would-be carjackers insert a plastic bottle in between the tyre of a car and the wheelwell, in a bid to lure the victim out of the car to investigate the “strange noise” (the bottle being crushed) upon starting the car.
An example of the warning taken from 2018 can be seen below –
PLEASE READ Police warn: if you find a plastic bottle near your car, you may be in danger
Just when we thought thieves used the highest technology to commit their flights and scams come with this: the tip of the plastic bottle. As the authorities explain, the thief puts a plastic bottle without water and sticks it in the wheel before your car. When the driver starts, he hears a very strange sound, it is the noise that is generated when the bottle is crushed. Concerned and worried, the driver comes out of the car to see what happened and the thieves immediately take advantage of that moment to get into the vehicle and take it in a very easy way. The police ask all users to share this information and thus avoid other flights with this simple trick.
This warning is yet another example of urban scarelore circulating the Internet about carjacking schemes with little to back up its claims, but plenty of reason to dismiss them.
The warning bears a striking resemblance to equally spurious claims about trending carjacking techniques such as sticking paper on the rear window or using fake $100 bills to lure motorists from their vehicles, or even using empty baby car seats at the side of the road.
Like those warnings, this warning about using plastic bottles to trick motorists into exiting their vehicles doesn’t seem logically sound, since – from the carjackers perspective – it relies on too many unknown variables and assumptions.
For one, it relies on the motorist not seeing the plastic bottle until they start their engine and hear the “crushing noise”. It relies on the assumption that the motorist would hear the crushing sound over the noise of their engine or any ambient noise. It relies on the assumption that the motorist will exit the vehicle to investigate, or indeed the assumption that the bottle will even make a noticeable crushing sound. It also hinges on the carjacker somehow knowing (or not caring) when a motorist will return to their vehicle, meaning the carjacker would need to lay in wait, potentially making themselves vulnerable to capture.
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Such assumptions outlined above generally render these types of schemes undesirable to any potential carjackers, who typically use less “assumption-reliant” techniques to steal cars, instead preferring more direct and primitive techniques. For example, forcing or tricking an already occupied car into stopping before using violence and threats to remove the occupiers and steal the car.
We did scour the Internet looking for any reported crimes that involved the use of a plastic bottle inserted into the wheelwell in such a manner. We could find no such reported crimes matching this description.
Yes, carjacking is a real threat. But instead of circulating such digital junk, simply read up on the most common ways carjackers operate in your area and always be aware of your surroundings when entering or exiting your vehicle.