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Car-Jacking Scheme Warning - Paper on Rear Window

Summary:
Email forward warns of a new car-jacking scheme in which paper is placed on the back window of parked cars as a ruse to get a driver to leave his or her vehicle so that the thieves can easily steal it (Full commentary below.)



Status:
False - Totally unsubstantiated

Example:(Submitted, December 2005)
ALL CAR OWNERS AND CAR DRIVERS, PLEASE READ

(originated from [Name of Insurance Company Removed])

Be aware of a new car-jacking scheme. You walk across the car park, unlock your car and get inside, lock the doors, start the engine and select reverse. You look into the rear-view mirror to back out of your parking space and notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift back into park or neutral, unlock the doors and get out to remove the paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.

When you reach the back of your car the car-jackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off. Your engine was running and you would have left your handbag or briefcase in the car.

APART FROM NICKING ANYTHING OF VALUE, THEY MIGHT FIND YOUR ADDRESS AND THEY ALREADY HAVE YOUR KEYS!

Remember, if you see your rear view blocked like this just drive away and remove the paper later! It is stuck to your window!

THIS SCAM IS HAPPENING IN LONDON RIGHT NOW AND WILL SURELY SPREAD TO OTHER AREAS Be thankful that you read this email and forward it to friends and family especially to women!

JUST BE AWARE AND TAKE CARE. IT WILL SOON ARRIVE IN YOUR AREA.




Commentary:
This widely distributed "warning" message claims that brazen car-jackers are placing pieces of paper on the back window of parked cars as a ruse to get drivers to leave their vehicles with the keys still in the ignition and the engine running. According to the message, when a hapless victim exits the vehicle to remove the offending paper obstruction, lurking car-jackers quickly jump in and steal it away.

The warning has spawned a number of versions and has been set in several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Often, the message claims to originate from an official organization such as a police department, motoring body, or insurance company.

The car-jacking scheme outlined in the email is not implausible. It is possible that criminals could use such a method to steal a car from an unwary victim. However, this degree of plausibility does not mean that such crimes are actually happening. Extensive searches of news, police department and motoring organization websites around the world have offered no confirmation that the car-jacking scheme described is actually occurring. If such car-jackings were really happening in three or more nations, it would be eminently newsworthy. If true, the mainstream media would almost certainly be reporting on such incidents.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department denounces the message as a hoax. The Florissant Police Department also denies that such incidents have been reported in its jurisdiction. Both organizations have been inadvertently associated with versions of the "warning". Urban legends website Snopes.com also classifies the warning message as false.

An English version of the message (shown above) states that such car-jackings are currently occurring in London and claims to originate from a UK based insurance company. However, there is no information about this apparent endorsement of the "warning" email on the insurance company's website. Furthermore, London's Metropolitan Police Service website has no warnings or reports about this method of car-jacking.

A number of credible organizations have published tips for protecting oneself from car-jackers. Tellingly, however, none that I could find mention the "paper on the rear window" ruse as a car-jacking scheme to watch out for.

The fact that virtually identical versions of this warning are set in different parts of the world also strongly indicates that the information in the message is not based on fact. Obviously, from time to time, someone alters an earlier version of the message to suit a local audience by substituting local place names or organizations before forwarding it onward. Thus, they are simply recycling an already dubious warning rather than reporting on events that are actually occurring in the targeted area or country.

Given that there are no credible reports of such crimes occurring in any of the targeted nations, forwarding this email seems counter-productive. Alerting all your friends about a non-existent car-jacking crime wave by emailing them a factually spurious "warning" is unlikely to be at all helpful. In fact, in our already crime-plagued society, perpetrating false warnings just spreads unnecessary fear and alarm. Hoax emails of this nature can also tie up valuable police resources because police personnel have to field numerous enquiries about the status of the messages.

These messages should be deleted rather than forwarded.

Australian Example:
Beware - Warning from NRMA

You walk across the car park, unlock your car and get inside. Then you lock all your doors, start the engine and shift into REVERSE, and you look into the rear-view mirror to back out of your parking space and you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift the gear stick back into PARK, unlock your doors and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.

When you reach the back of your car, that is when the car-jackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off!! Your engine was running, you would have left your purse in the car and they practically mow you down as they speed off in your car.

BE AWARE OF THIS NEW SCHEME THAT IS NOW BEING USED IN SYDNEY AND COULD SPREAD ACROSS AUSTRALIA.

Just drive away and remove the paper that is stuck to your window later, and be thankful that you read this email. I hope you will forward this to friends and family especially to women!

A purse contains all identification, and you certainly do NOT want someone getting your home address. Especially when they already HAVE your HOUSE KEYS!

You may like to let your friends know this can happen..


References:
How to Prevent a Carjacking
Richland County Sheriff's Department: The Paper on the Windshield Carjacking Email
ERRONEOUS E-MAIL CAUSES ALARM IN CITY OF FLORISSANT
Metropolitan Police Service
Snopes: Carjacking
Trendmicro: New Carjacking Scheme Hoax


Write-up by Brett M.Christensen