A number of messages and warnings have spread across social media over the decades warning readers to be wary of a “new and trending” type of crime that involves criminals placing baby car seats on the side of the road to lure potential victims into stopping and exiting their cars to investigate, thus leaving them vulnerable to the awaiting criminals.
Despite the prolific nature and persistence of this particular rumour, there appears to be no substance to it. The number of different variants of this rumour – each attributing the apparently trending crime to a different location – affords this particular tale the well-earned reputation of a bona-fide Internet urban legend.
Not only have many different version of this tale surfaced over the years dating back to 2009 and beyond, many versions of the warning have each asserted that a particular police force or agency has issued the warning, which also inevitably turns out to be false.
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Many earlier versions of the hoax claimed that the crime was part of a ‘National Gang Week’ where potential gang members would have to commit various crimes in order to qualify as a fully-fledged gang member.
If that rings a bell then we’re not surprised since a number of other online tall tales have also used this alleged reasoning to justify their warnings, including a claim that crying children were being used as bait to lure drivers, and also another warning that claimed gang members were sneaking into the back seats of unattended cars at gas stations.
In the UK, the warnings have previously been attributed to coming from the Bexhill police force in Sussex, UK TV show Crimestoppers, as well as the Metropolitan police force, none of which actually issued any warning like this at all and have denied anything to do with it. See examples below.
Crime Management Unit Bexhill Police Station Telephone: www.sussex.police.uk
Sussex Police Serving Sussex
Even if it doesnt happen to you, it is a warning worth being aware about!
This is not a joke originator was at a crimewatch meeting on 18th and the police requested this was sent out. Worth Passing On!
This is happening now!
Sad, especially if you are inclined to help people… While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it. For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the Police and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the Police advised even before they went out there to check….
“There are several things to be aware of … gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women) to stop their vehicle and get out of the car.
“There is a gang initiation reported by the local Police where gangs are placing a car seat by the road…with a fake baby in it…waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the abandoned baby. “Note that the location of this car seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the person — woman — will be dragged into the woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead. If its a man, theyre usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.
DO NOT STOP FOR ANY REASON!!!
AND REPORT WHAT YOU SAW, BUT DONT EVEN SLOW DOWN. “IF YOU ARE DRIVING AT NIGHT AND EGGS ARE THROWN AT YOUR WINDSCREEN, DO NOT STOP TO CHECK THE CAR, DO NOT OPERATE THE WIPER AND DO NOT SPRAY ANY WATER BECAUSE EGGS MIXED WITH WATER BECOME MILKY AND BLOCK YOUR VISION UP TO 92.5%, AND YOU ARE THEN FORCED TO STOP BESIDE THE ROAD AND BECOME A VICTIM OF THESE CRIMINALS.
THIS IS A NEW TECHNIQUE USED BY GANGS, SO PLEASE INFORM YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. THESE ARE DESPERATE TIMES AND THESE ARE UNSAVOURY INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL TAKE DESPERATE MEASURES TO GET WHAT THEY WANT.”
Please talk to your loved ones about this. This is a new tactic used. Please be safe.
Get started NOW — SEND THIS MESSAGE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES TO BE CAREFUL AND AWARE OF EVERYTHING AROUND THEM SO AS NOT TO BECOME A VICTIM.
collected December 2009
collected September 2012
In 2009 in the United States the warning popularly attached itself to the State of Tennessee Department of Corrections, as a warning circulated claiming to come from a worker there named Benjamin F. Bean. See below.
National Gang Week is starting: This is their New target Method While driving on any roads, If you see a baby car seat sitting on the side of the road DO NOT STOP!!!! These are gangs targeting people, especially women, to stop their vehicle to help a baby. They make this baby look as if it has blood on itself or on its clothes, when you get out of your vehicle in attempt to help, the gangs jump out from cornfields or tall bushes. They have beaten women to near death, and then continue to rape them with baseball bats and other torture methods. This is not just a forward of information, it is within our area. If you do happen to see a car seat DO NOT STOP CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY!! Please send this on to everyone you know.
Benjamin F. Bean
State Of Tennessee
Department Of Correction
5th Floor Rachel Jackson Bldg.
320 Sixth Avenue North
collected December 2009
A number of other police forces supposedly (but didn’t) issue the warning in the United States too, including the Harrisonburg police department in Virginia and the Canton police department in Ohio, all of which denied issuing the warning. The same warnings have also circulated attributing the locations of the crimes to communities in Australia and New Zealand.
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Despite the popularity of these warnings, there have been no incidents that we’re aware of that match this description. If trending crimes of this nature were as prolific as the popularity of these rumours suggest, we’d have no problem uncovering genuine articles and supported warnings online, but alas there have been none.
All we have is an unsubstantiated rumour that has managed to travel the globe, and a lot of denials from the people who supposedly issued the warnings. There is nothing more here than an urban legend that needs to be put to rest.