UPDATE! “This teen’s warning has people looking out for shirts wrapped around their windshield wipers!” Um, Why?

UPDATE! znkrdznyze
It will come as no shock to readers of this blog that the shirt on the windshield  turned out NOT to be a bold new way to kidnap and sex traffic mall workers, but was in fact a “random prank.” Imagine that.


On my Yahoo news feed comes this story of a young Michigan woman who found a shirt wrapped around one of her windshield wipers. Admittedly, that is odd. But odder still is how this non-event has gone viral — 100,000+ shares — along with breathless warnings about how we must all be on the lookout for shirt-wrapped wipers, or woe betide us!

If you were getting into your car late at night and saw a shirt wrapped around your windshield wiper blade, what would you do? It happened to one Flint, Michigan teenager, who immediately drove away — but her warning to others about the incident has quickly gone viral.

Ashley Hardacre, 19, wrote on Facebook earlier this month that after leaving her mall job late one night and getting into her car, she noticed a flannel shirt on her windshield. She tried to get it off with her wipers, but it was wrapped tightly around one of the blades. Sensing something was wrong — and seeing two cars parked nearby, one that was running — she says she drove away with the shirt still attached to her car.

Can we say this for the zillionth time? It is indeed GOOD to be alert, and to trust your instincts — especially if all they have you doing is driving your car where you were going anyway.

But the leap to, “OMG, she was almost kidnapped!” is insane, er, seemingly unwarranted. Even the local police, God bless them, say that they have never heard of this shirt technique before. (Ah ha! Just shows you how nefarious it is!)

Hardacre’s post read:

“Luckily I knew better than to remove the shirt with cars around me, so I drove over to a place where I was safe and quickly rolled down my window and got the shirt off.”

It’s like living in “Taken 4: This Time It’s a Flannel Shirt.”

So remember security guru Bruce Schneier’s “Movie Plot” warning: The more a crime sounds like the plot from a movie, the less likely it is to happen in real life.

He was talking about terrorism, but let’s expand it to include flannel-based felonies. – L


Beware the boogey shirt!


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41 Responses to UPDATE! “This teen’s warning has people looking out for shirts wrapped around their windshield wipers!” Um, Why?

  1. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com February 24, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    This is the symbol of the secret society known as the Linenuminati.

  2. Richard February 24, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

    I’d wondered about that also. There was no indication whatsoever that the people in their cars (people waiting? At a mall? Near closing time? Unheard of!) had anything to do with the shirt. Admittedly the shirt is weird, but my guess is that there’s a simple explanation that we’ll never hear, because whoever did it either told her and she’s way to embarrassed to go back on her countrywide story now, or will never tell anyone because of the same reason.

  3. Richard February 24, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

    Besides, if they were wanting to get her at her car within 15 seconds of getting to it, wouldn’t it be just as easy to grab her before she opened the door? Or if they wanted to distract her, how about a note apologizing for damaging the far corner of the car (or anything similar that wouldn’t be weird)?

  4. M February 24, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

    I had friends share that on Facebook. Replies were:


    “Thank God she is okay!”

    “Thanks for the warning!”

    Of course, no one has been abducted using this method, and no attempted abductions have been reported.

    The flannel shirt could have been dropped in the parking lot by someone, and a good samaritan put it on the nearest car, hoping they would find it more easily.

    But that is way too simple and innocent an explanation. Better to fear monger.

  5. Stacey February 24, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    All of this instant insanity brought you by the Interwebs. Everyone wants to be famous.

  6. Donna February 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    Is the theory here that some kidnapper just happened to be in the parking lot at the mall where she works at the same time she went into work, decided that he had to have her, put a flannel shirt on her windshield and then WAITED HER ENTIRE SHIFT for her? She must be something special!

    If not, why on earth why would this be a feasible abduction tactic? The person placing the shirt would have no earthly idea if the driver is remotely desirable for kidnapping by just seeing an empty car sitting in the parking lot of the mall.

  7. Jessica February 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    This makes me want to go wrap tshirts around a bunch of windshield wipers in my town, so the local news can upgrade the coverage to “a rash of these worrying incidents.”

  8. BL February 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

    That happened to me once. I was never seen again.

  9. Backroads February 24, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    I knew better to remove a shirt with cars around me.

    Did I just really read that sage advice?

  10. Backroads February 24, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    The article had her saying in an now-deleted Facebook post that she was aware of a kidnapping scheme involving placing things on windshields. So… has that been followed through? Do we have confirmed records of kidnappers putting things on a windshield wipers and kidnapping people? Perhaps that’s why she deleted the post, if someone asked for evidence.

    BL, I’m sorry you were never seen again after a shirt was place on your windshield wiper.

  11. Jill February 24, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    Clowns did it, the scary clowns that everyone was terrified of two months ago but haven’t been seen since. Now they’re wrapping flannel shirts around windshield wipers because their villainy knows no bounds. What if a child had been in the car? What then?

  12. Jason February 24, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    The article I read with this story had a comment from the police saying they were aware of a car theft tactic where the thieves (carjackers, actually) would put a $100 bill under your wiper, then steal your car when you got out to retrieve it.

    I guess the assumption is that you probably wouldn’t notice the bill until you were in your car with the motor running. You would get out, leaving the engine on, and the bad guy would jump in and steal your car.

    That seems like it could theoretically work, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent a physical confrontation between thief and car owner, so why bother?

  13. Jason February 24, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    The last time I fell for something similar, I was 12 or 13, and the $100 bill turned out to be a religious tract.

  14. Becky Z February 24, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

    This happened a town over from me.

    It was people being stupid and has already been debunked by our local paper.

    Sadly,it was after it got picked up nationwide


  15. James Pollock February 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    If the bad guys wanted to get you out of your car, wouldn’t it be easier for them to grab you before you got INTO your car? And if they wanted to keep you from leaving, wouldn’t slashing the tires be far more effective?

    This isn’t even enough to be a movie plot. I mean, unless the car transforms into a giant robot and carries her away or something.

  16. Beth February 24, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    I’ve been reading different reports on this across the world wide web, and the overarching theme seems to be “She did the right thing.”

    The head, it explodes.

  17. Mike February 24, 2017 at 11:28 pm #

    Fear sells. “Nothing much happened” doesn’t get clicks. “OMG TEH HORRORZ!!” gets views, likes, shares, comments, all yielding page views and ad revenue.

  18. JIm February 24, 2017 at 11:53 pm #

    Jessica, I love it. I’ve been wondering what to do with all those old flannel shirts which are hanging around my closet. Off to the Mall….. LOL

  19. Was it a Pendleton flannel shirt? February 25, 2017 at 12:16 am #

    Seattle called, the Grunge movement of 26 years ago wants it flannel shirt back you thief!

    Wait, this is Flint, MI….maybe the shirt wanted a clean glass of water?!

    How do they know it was a stranger’s shirt and not a shirt of a friend, family member or colleague? Did they do DNA testing on the shirt?

    Why did you not see the shirt on the wiper BEFORE getting in the car? It is not like the shirt is similar to a commonly placed flyer under the wiper that is not seen until later. Look at the size of that shirt!

  20. Bob February 25, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    I’ve got two gripes about this.

    First of all, we’ve got a special word for teenagers over 18: ADULT! Call her a young woman (only 2 extra characters) or even just woman (4 fewer characters!) but quit calling teens over 18 some word that suggests they’re kids!

    And secondly, how do you not see a shirt on your blooming windshield?! That’s just simple situational awareness folks!

  21. Helen February 25, 2017 at 3:57 am #


    So according to local news, the shirt was left as a “prank”.

    When I first read about this, I wasn’t sure why a shirt on a windshield was scary.
    Now, with the update, I’m not sure why a shirt on a windshield is funny.
    Why do I not feel any emotion regarding this shirt?!? Is something wrong with me?!?

    I would think that the biggest danger this woman faced was getting into a crash while driving with that thing obstructing her view.

  22. BL February 25, 2017 at 5:27 am #

    “First of all, we’ve got a special word for teenagers over 18: ADULT! Call her a young woman (only 2 extra characters) or even just woman (4 fewer characters!) but quit calling teens over 18 some word that suggests they’re kids!”

    But she’s just a helpless little girl, vulnerable to attacks by malicious articles of clothing!

    Next it could be Argyle socks!

  23. Stephanie February 25, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    It was on our local news the other night in Madison wi. Jeeesh!

  24. Momof8 February 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    “…became a viral sensation…” hahahahaha what an extraordinarily heroic child. I’m going to fake-prevent crimes and post to Facebook so that I might become a viral sensation hahahaha

  25. En Passant February 25, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    Snopes says False!


  26. Kirsten February 25, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    If I were either a carjacker or a kidnapper I would want to lure the person away from the car, not tie her closely to it while she stands there leaning over it to remove a shirt. If I wanted a decoy I might put something in the middle of the road away from the car or at least something on the non-driver side of it so that the driver couldn’t just jump in and drive away if they saw me coming.

    In any case, this turned out to be another Rorschach test of the zeitgeist and once again it came back “Full Paranoia.”

  27. Reziac February 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

    And I’d be like… Cool! Free shirt!

    I once came out of Costco, where I’d parked my truck off by itself (so this wasn’t an accident of someone leaving groceries behind), and found a 50 pound bag of potatoes leaning against one wheel. OMG, must be poisoned potatoes!

    They were delicious.

  28. Christopher Byrne February 25, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    I haven’t heard of this. I have much more success with chain mail for my mall lot adventures. It has a greater element of surprise on a windshield, and you can gauge by your target’s reaction if he or she would be more likely to accompany you to a Ren Fair.

    Remember when fantasies were all about glamorous Hollywood? Now everyone imagines themselves in a John Carpenter flick.

    The power of the imagination is mighty!

  29. CLamb February 25, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

    Luckily I’ve only found broadcloth shirts and the occasional knitted shirt wrapped around my car’s windshield wiper. Those are just lizard people’s gifts to humans.

  30. Snopes catch props February 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    @En Passant

    Nice catch on Snopes about the fake news of this person and shirt story…..

    And in other news in Flint tonight…..

  31. NY Mom February 25, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    Fake news sells.
    Truth is boring.
    Evidence and statistics are way beyond most “folks”.

  32. JJ February 25, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

    10 bucks says none of this ever happened. But even if it did, where’s the story here? There was a flannel shirt on someone’s windshield wiper and nothing else happened.

  33. C. S. P. Schofield February 25, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

    I admit that seeing this go viral over the internet seems excessive. I’m not sure the young lady’s instinct to leave was. Somebody wrapped that shirt around her wiper, and that’s out of place. When something is out of place, if you see another out of place thing, then maybe it’s time to leave.

    I’m not saying we should all walk around at Deacon 4 all the time. Just that we should be aware.

  34. pentamom February 25, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    Did this woman just say she went to a deserted place so she’d be safer?

    This is what we’re coming to. The presence of others is a danger, isolation is safety. :headdesk

  35. Harrow February 25, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    @Reziac: Perhaps you interrupted a skulking bicyclist with a flat tire…


    The fifth comment could explain your mystery.

  36. BL February 26, 2017 at 6:28 am #

    ‘UPDATE! It will come as no shock to readers of this blog that the shirt on the windshield turned out NOT to be a bold new way to kidnap and sex traffic mall workers, but was in fact a “random prank.” Imagine that.’

    Ha. That’s what they WANT you to believe!

  37. Puzzled February 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    Little known fact: there are more pressing problems in Flint than this shirt thing.

  38. Sheri February 26, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    A scary clown did it. You know he did! Oh ,where have all of the scary clown Dscrtohmale4u@aol.com gone??

  39. Sheri February 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    I haven’t a clue as to where that weird email address came from. Maybe it was the scary clown?

  40. Paul February 27, 2017 at 9:03 am #

    “The men have since apologized for their actions and told police they had no idea that the prank could be construed as a human trafficking ploy, the newspaper reports.”
    Everything is a human trafficking ploy. I had a friend who was interviewing for a job. They put the address in Uber and the person took them to the top of a hill with only one road down and one building with nothing else around it. The building was a walled compound, and they got really nervous and ready to make a run for it. Turns out it was an R&D lab and this was the cheapest way to keep people from snooping around. Just as innocent, but a way better reason to feel like something sinister was coming.

  41. brian February 27, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Wait–can we go back to the $100 thing. You’ll give me $100 to pay for my ride home and take my car so I can make an insurance claim??? Where do I sign up?

    My favorite part is that they say the thieves used a $100 bill. Why would a thief spend more then needed? No one is less likely to open the door to reach for a $5 then they are for $100. And if we are going to inject logic, $100 is probably a huge percentage of the profit on most stolen cars.