If you find a plastic water bottle on your car hood, here’s the creepy thing it might mean.

In recent years, social media has been filled with warnings about predators marking potential victims’ vehicles with various items. These tactics allegedly include placing zip ties on door handles or wedging plastic water bottles in hubcaps or on the hood.

Although authorities label these messages as “urban legends,” it’s wise to stay informed.

Read on to learn about one woman who found a water bottle on the hood of her car!

After a TikTok user had a creepy interaction with a stranger in a parking lot, she’s now warning people about potential “kidnapper tactics.”

Haley West explains that after finishing her shopping at a Cincinnati supermarket, she was returning to her vehicle in the parking lot.

As she made her way to her car, a man yelled out to her.

On TikTok, she shared: “I’m literally shaking right now. The weirdest s**t just happened to me. I’m leaving Fresh Thyme and I’m parked in this big parking lot.” She continued, “This guy was walking kind of close to me, kind of not, but you could tell he was staring at me while he was walking. He yelled over to me, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ I just ignored him and kept walking, but he kept following me.”

Ignoring him did not deter him, and he continued tailing her through the parking lot.

“This man walked right up to my car and said, ‘Come check out my car, it’s nice, it’s a Lexus. You like it?’ It’s my car, though I didn’t react to that because that would have given away that it’s my car, although I think he already knew.”

Instead of getting into her car, West explains she crossed the street—shopping bags still in her arms—until it was safe to return to her vehicle.

When she reached her car, she noticed a water bottle sitting on the hood.

“I don’t know if the two correlate, but it’s never happened to me before… I gotta get out of here,” she said.

Before signing off with “Harpers Point, Cincinnati,” she added, “I just wanted to say, be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially if you’re a woman. Be careful out there.”

After her video went viral, she posted a follow-up, responding to a viewer’s comment.

In the now-deleted clip, the user warned there was a grim reason behind the bottle on the hood of her car.

“This is a tactic used by traffickers and kidnappers to get you to exit your vehicle… If this happens and something is on the hood of your car when you return, leave it there. Drive away—it’ll fall off on its own.”

Urban legends

Despite the fear of tagging propagated by social media, authorities say it’s highly unlikely that this method is used to identify vulnerable victims. They think people do it for another reason…

@haleywestco #saftey #ohio #cincinnati #becareful ♬ original sound – HALEY WEST

In fact, after a viral post about a zip tie sex trafficking trap, Michigan State Police issued a warning about misinformation on social media.

“It’s essentially like an urban legend or scare-lore. The whole idea is just to scare people,” Lt. Brian Oleksyk told news station WILX10. Discussing other hoaxes, like a flannel shirt on a windshield or an elastic band around a side mirror, Oleksyk noted that criminals aren’t in the habit of warning their victims.

“This is not how it’s done. It’s very rare for them to prey on a stranger,” he said. “It slows us down from investigating real crimes. We have to prove that it’s a false hoax with no substance.”

What do you think about the idea of criminals tagging belongings to identify victims? Please share your thoughts and then share the story to hear what others have to say!

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If you find a plastic water bottle on your car hood, here’s the creepy thing it might mean.
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