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

Over the past several years, social media has been rife with warnings of predators identifying potential victims by tagging vehicles. Some of these tactics reportedly include zip ties on a door handle or plastic water bottles wedged in a hub cab, or sitting on the hood.

Though authorities say these messages are merely “urban legends,” it’s still best to arm yourself with knowledge.

Keep reading 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 of dangerous situations involving “kidnapper tactics.”

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

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

She claimed on TikTok: “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.” Detailing the encounter, she continues, “This guy was walking like kind of close to me, kind of not, but you could tell he was like staring at me while he was walking, and he yells over to me like ‘hey what’s your name?’ and I just ignored him, and I kept walking and he just kept following me.”

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

“This man walks right up to my car and he’s like, ‘come check out my car it’s nice it’s a Lexus, you like it?’ Like 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 knows.”

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

When she got to her car, she saw a water bottle sitting on top of the hood.

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

Before calling out “Harpers Point, Cincinnati,” she adds, “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, the woman did a follow-up with a reply from a viewer.

In a now-deleted clip, the user warns 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 you have this happen and something is on the hood of your car when you come back to it, leave it there, drive away it’ll fall off on its own.”

Urban legends

Despite the fear of tagging that’s propagated by social media, authorities say it’s very unlikely it’s a method used to identify vulnerable victims.

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

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

“…This is not how it’s done…Very rare is it 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 and it’s got no material to it.”

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