Claim: A man in Chattanooga pretending to be drunk fools women drivers into thinking they’ve hit him as a method of luring them from their vehicles.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2005]
This just happened yesterday morning (December 26, 2005) right here in Chattanooga.
A lady I work with was on her way to work and was getting off the Lee Highway/Collegedale exit. Just as she was merging and beginning to slow down, she saw a man 19 or
I just wanted to let everyone know this was going on. Please lock your doors and if this happens to you immediately call 911 and don’t get out of your car until police arrive.
Forward this to everyone you know so we can stay safe on Chattanooga’s streets. I would hate for this to happen again to anyone.
Origins: In the past we’ve encountered crime warnings that recommended widespread hysteria as the proper response to what was perceived as an imminent threat to law-abiding folks nationwide where the incident that sparked the alert turned out to be a crime that took place
all of once. Yet this warning about a lurking carjacker, rapist or murderer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is not even that — while the incident it relates sort of happened, its most frightening details are the stuff of embroidery on the part of the storyteller.
According to Chattanooga Police Department spokesman
Instead, the driver “chose not to open the window,”
Sgt. Layne said this was the first time a situation like this had taken place in Chattanooga. “We do not have some ongoing scam or scheme with this type of problem occurring,” he reported.
More simply, the portion of the warning about a widespread con used by the ill-intentioned to lure women from their vehicles for the purpose of raping, robbing, or murdering them was the imaginings of the person telling the story. What did happen was that a motorist encountered a staggering man on a highway exit in Chattanooga — she thought she might have struck him with her car, so she stopped, whereupon he approached her vehicle and rapped on her window. When she told the 911 operator that the fellow she feared she’d hit was now banging on her window, causing her to feel scared, the operator suggested she drive to a place where she felt more secure and offered to have an officer meet her there to take her statement. As described, the encounter better fits a drunk, drugged, or “not quite right in the head” pedestrian getting irate with the motorist who almost hit him than it does the construct of a cunning carjacker (or worse) lying in wait for women drivers.
Barbara “horsepower, not zebras” Mikkelson
Last updated: 22 July 2011
Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Hit-and-Run E-Mail False, Police Say.” 31 December 2005 (p. B5).
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.