Earlier in December 2019, a woman went viral when she shared what happened to her car while it was parked in the parking lot of a local Kroger. According to the woman, when she walked out of the grocery store, she discovered a long black zip tie tied to the handle of her car door.
Understandably, the zip tie caught her attention. And since she’s “been warned about anything foreign” being attached to cars in the past, the woman did what she was told to do. She walked passed her truck and sought help.
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What Do Strange Zip Ties Found on Your Vehicle Really Mean?
The woman explained, “[I] immediately went into the Kroger office asking if anyone knew why a big, black, zip tie would be attached to my truck. They looked puzzled. So I called the police. They told me to stay in the store until the police arrived.”
While waiting in the store, the woman says Kroger personnel began “googling” what a zip tie on her car could mean. They reportedly discovered that the zip tie could indication a “human trafficking marker.”
She wrote, “Yes, anything on your vehicle that you did not put there is noteworthy. Get help. Don’t enter the vehicle by yourself.”
However, according to Snopes this isn’t exactly true. It’s more of a scare tactic like the officer who responded to the woman’s call told her.
As Snopes reports, “human trafficking affects millions of people worldwide, but it’s also the frequent subject of viral scarelore — fictional tales intended to frighten audiences, often prompting them to share without questioning the story.”
Snopes continued adding that the origins of these claims reportedly began in San Antonio. It was law enforcement there that debunked a woman’s claim regarding zip ties indicating the possibility that human traffickers were in the area.
Nonetheless, while these stories might not be accurate, that doesn’t mean it’s a safe world out there. San Antonio police shared this statement in response:
“Although the recent claims proved to be a hoax, we want our citizens to remain aware of their surroundings at all times and if anyone is uncomfortable or in fear at any time, they should call 911 and report the situation.”
And while the Freedom of Information Act can be used to help private citizens stay “in the know about their government,” if the information someone is looking for invades a person’s personal privacy, it would fall “under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.”
Meaning, using FOIA to obtain a person’s license plate number is not possible. While it’s clear this woman’s intentions were to keep other people safe, please be aware of what you are reading and sharing on the internet.
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