Claim: Gang members are targeting police cars and civilian vehicles with PBA stickers and loosening the lug nuts on the tires.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, January 2015]
This just sounds very unlikely:
Detroit — Police are warning officers and anyone else displaying bumper stickers supporting law enforcement about a reported threat that gang members may tamper with their vehicles.
Detroit Police Second Deputy Chief James Fleming, head of the Communications Bureau, on
The belief that “gang members” planned to target car tire lug nuts did not originate with the article of
In addition to the threats, police have increased security at precincts throughout the city to prevent acts of vandalism, such as loosening lug nuts on the tires of squad cars, and other acts that may endanger the lives of cops, sources [said].
In the brief mention on
and the Detroit memo issued on
It’s certainly possible organized criminals inform police officers of their planned crimes prior to engaging in sordid dealings, or undercover operatives are able to drop a dime on their unwitting gangland contacts. However, gangs and cops do not historically have a friendly relationship, and there’s no reason for their members to be angrier with law enforcement during the
Furthermore, there’s no clear motive ascribed to the purported threat. Presumably gangs are always displeased with law enforcement; and committing an act of vengeance that is virtually undetectable doesn’t send a message of any description, nor does it result in financial gain for gang members. Should any vehicles be tampered with in such a fashion, nothing would connect any resulting accident to any action by gangs.
The claim seems more implausible when extrapolated to those who are not police but merely display PBA or FOP stickers on their cars. Such stickers are common and widely believed to ward off the issuance of moving violation tickets by officers of the law (who may believe the occupants are police supporters and accordingly grant them a wider berth of discretion), but there’s no obvious motive for gangs’ wanting to target civilian drivers who have no law enforcement powers.
Finally, Detroit Police media contacts told the paper no such incidents (potential or actual) had occurred in Detroit or elsewhere before the communication was issued:
There have not been any reports of lug nuts being removed from officers cars in or around Detroit.
Police in Detroit seemed equally perplexed as to why gang members might engage in such an act, one that provided no clear incentive but risked arrest and placed the general public unpredictably in harm’s way:
“The idea that people would think that’s a good idea in any way actually baffles my mind,” said officer Mark Diaz, of the Detroit Police Officers Association. “This creates a very dangerous situation not just for our police officers but for the general public, When a tire comes off a car, it creates a fatal environment.”
The claim mirrored many preceding it involving vague, motiveless “gangs” giving shape to otherwise formless fears about a topical and volatile real situation. In this instance, many people were concerned that
Last updated: 6 January 2014