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Urban Legend - Rapist Hides in Back Seat at Garage

Outline
Social media message tells the tale of a woman who narrowly escaped being attacked by a convicted rapist who hid in the back seat of her car when she went to pay for petrol at a garage in Longton UK.



Brief Analysis
The message does not describe an actual event. It is a revamped version of an old urban legend that has circulated for decades. There are no credible reports of an attempted attack in Longton like the one described.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.





Last updated: 8th February 2012
First published: 8th February 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
I HAVE COPIED THIS FROM A FRIENDS STATUS ...........This is true,A woman had filled her car with petrol at Longton Hall Road B P garage and went to pay,being late at night she went to the window to the lady cashier,the lady said come in and customer replyed,its ok i have the correct money,no come in the cashier said again,dont be alarmed said the cashier and dont turn around a man with his face covered has just got in the back of your car and lay down,now come in and look at anything on the shelves i have called the police and theyr,e on there way.The man was captured and arrested he was a convicted rapist from Longton,always lock ur car at the petrol station this happened saturday 4th feb.

Backseat Rapist




Detailed Analysis

© Olivia R. Davy, 2009

Gang member hidden in back seat
This would-be warning message, which is currently rocketing around via Facebook and other social media outlets, tells the harrowing tale of how a woman at a BP garage in Longton, UK narrowly escaped the clutches of a convicted rapist who had hidden in the back seat of her vehicle when she went to pay for petrol. According to the message, an alert cashier noticed the man get into the back of the car and therefore advised the potential victim to stay in the garage shop until police arrived and arrested the culprit.

However, the message does not describe a real incident. In fact, the message is just one more incarnation of a long running urban legend that has been circulating in various forms since the 1960's. There are no credible media or police reports about an incident like the one described, either in Longton, or elsewhere in the UK.

In fact, versions of the story have been set in several countries, including Australia, The United States and Canada. Most earlier variants of the story claim that the hiding man is a newly admitted member of a gang who must kidnap and rape a woman as part of a gang initiation. Despite the continued re-emergence of the tale in many parts of the world over many years, there have been no police or media reports that claim that any gangs have required initiation crimes like the ones outlined in the "warnings".

This years old American version of the story reveals that the variant above is clearly cut from the same cloth:
A friend stopped at a pay-at-the-pump gas station to get gas. Once she filled her gas tank and after paying at the pump and starting to leave, the voice of the attendant inside came over the speaker. He told her that something happened with her card and that she needed to come inside to pay. The lady was confused because the transaction showed complete and approved. She relayed that to him and was getting ready to leave but the attendant, once again, urged her to come in to pay or there'd be trouble. She proceeded to go inside and started arguing with the attendant about his threat. He told her to calm down and listen carefully:

He said that while she was pumping gas, a guy slipped into the back seat of her car on the other side and the attendant had already called the police.

She became frightened and looked out in time to see her car door open and the guy slip out. The report is that the new gang initiation thing is to bring back a woman and/or her car. One way they are doing this is crawling under women's cars while they're pumping gas or at grocery stores in the nighttime. The other way is slipping into unattended cars and kidnapping the women.

Please pass this on to other women, young and old alike. Be extra careful going to and from your car at night. If at all possible, don't go alone!
Passing on these silly stories is apt to cause unnecessary fear and alarm in communities and may also divert attention away from much more credible threats. Of course, criminals might try and have likely already tried tactics somewhat similar to the ones described to further their own nefarious ends. But, these messages describe events and scenarios that are not real and have never actually happened. And the places where the events supposedly took place alter continually in different versions, with each new version being as equally false as its predecessor. Thus, given that they are based on outright fabrications and are clearly fictional, they ultimately fail even as cautionary tales.

That said, the advice in the message to always lock your car, even at petrol stations is worth heeding. Thieves have certainly stolen valuables from cars - and sometimes the cars as well - while the owner was inside paying for a petrol purchase.

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References
Gang Member Hidden in Back Seat Myth

Last updated: 8th February 2012
First published: 8th February 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer