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VERIFY: Is this social media warning about human traffickers zip-tying windshield wipers on cars real?

There are zero documented cases of this happening, according to local police.

WASHINGTON — QUESTION:

Is this social media warning about human traffickers zip-tying windshield wipers on cars real?

ANSWER:

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. 

SOURCES:

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

PROCESS:

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.

BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION FRIENDS: My windshield wipers were zip tied together while I was shopping at post oak mall. Law enforcement let me know that this is a trick human traffickers use and when women...

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."

Numerous ROAD CLOSURES this Sunday, December 8 will occur througho... ut the day for the BCS Marathon, the Jingle Bell Fun Run, and the Christmas Parade. Please be aware of which roads and intersections will be affected and give yourself extra travel time.

So, we can Verify, this one appears false. Police here haven’t seen human traffickers targeting women, by zip-tying their windshield wipers.

RELATED: VERIFY: Viral post about sex-traffickers on Snapchat is false

RELATED: VERIFY: Is a Hagerstown sex trafficking online warning post legit?

RELATED: VERIFY: Did police raid a DC daycare for alleged sex trafficking?

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