WASHINGTON — QUESTION:
Is this social media warning about human traffickers zip-tying windshield wipers on cars real?
No, our researchers found zero documented cases of this ever happening. However, police say it's always good to be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious behavior.
Metropolitan Police Department
Arlington County Police Department
Alexandria City Police Department
Fairfax County Police Department
Prince William County Police Department
Montgomery County Police Department
Prince George's County Police Department
San Angelo Police Department
College Station Police Department
There’s a new scary social media post going around tonight claiming human traffickers are using a new trick to target potential victims.
According to the social media buzz, it goes like this: human traffickers are targeting women by placing zip ties on their cars’ windshield wipers. Then when the driver is busy trying to take off the ties, a human trafficker strikes.
So we're verifying: is the warning legit?
To get our answer we checked with local law enforcement in D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, Prince William County, Fairfax, Prince George's, and Montgomery County.
We found no documented cases of this happening.
"Our agency has not received any of these types of reports," Rebecca Innocenti, a spokesperson for Montgomery County police, said. "This claim (some version of it) has circulated social media for a number of years and gains traction from time to time."
Police Departments all over the country are chiming in, saying while it’s good to be on alert and report suspicious behavior, any reports online are still unconfirmed.
"We want to remind citizens that we all have a shared responsibility to not spread rumors or unverified information through social media networks," San Angelo Police Department wrote about this hoax in 2018. "Spreading rumors misrepresents the dangers, warning signs and risks associated with sex trafficking. Instead, we encourage our citizens to seek out resources concerning the validated warning signs of Human Trafficking and ways to take action."
Law enforcement in Texas called the warning described in the post "extremely unlikely."
So, we can Verify, this one appears false. Police here haven’t seen human traffickers targeting women, by zip-tying their windshield wipers.