News

Target Shopper Says 'Traffickers' Left Sunglasses On Her Car Door Handle

"So many people have asked how I knew the sunglasses were a sign of potential trafficking," the Target shopper posted on Facebook.

Published Jun 8, 2022

Line of red Target shopping carts with logos visible in parking lot in San Ramon, California, January 22, 2020. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Line of red Target shopping carts with logos visible in parking lot in San Ramon, California, January 22, 2020. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

On June 1, 2022, a Facebook user posted that "traffickers" had left a pair of sunglasses on her car door handle in an attempt to abduct her in the parking lot of a Target in Plano, Texas. "Still crying and shaking about this," read the post, which was shared tens of thousands of times.

The post included a photograph of sunglasses on a car door handle and a window reflection of someone, perhaps a Target employee, in a bright orange vest next to the photographer. We're in the process of trying to determine whether the alleged events took place, and the legitimacy of the photograph.

By phone, local police said they hadn't received any calls on the matter. We reached out to the user who made the post, as well as Target Corporate, but did not hear back from either party. We will update this story if, or when, that changes. For now, here's what we know:

The Viral Facebook Post

In the post, Facebook user Mollie Mayfield claimed she was shopping inside the Plano Target store located at 2200 Dallas Parkway, though she did not specify when. She said she believed a man was following her, aisle after aisle. Mayfield said that when she walked out of the store, she noticed a vehicle parked on the driver side of her car and a pair of sunglasses on her car door handle. (In comments under the post, Mayfield indicated that she mentioned the other vehicle because she was worried that someone in, or near, that car was responsible for placing the sunglasses in the suspicious position.)

The picture in the post showed a reflection of someone wearing a bright orange vest, possibly a Target employee, seemingly looking at the sunglasses on the car door:

The original post read as follows:

Still crying and shaking about this. Was at Target like any other day and noticed a man following me on every aisle in the groceries. Went to cleaning stuff and didn’t see him again. I checked out walked to my car and first noticed a car parked on my driver side and then saw the sunglasses on my [door] handle. I ran back in to customer service shaking asking someone to walk me out. They went out to check my car and saw the [other] car was gone. While walking me out I was still looking around and saw the man back inside by the checkout looking for someone else...the security told me sadly I’m not the first In The past few days to have to be walked out. Thankful I always have the instinct of paying attention to my srruounding and obviously my RBF/don’t mess with me look doesn’t work anymore lol

In the comments, Mayfield added, "The guy was in super bright colors which is why he stood out to me and I was able to point him out to security when I saw him again in the store."

'Potential Trafficking'

Another Facebook user commented on the post, saying, "OMG!!! What do the sunglasses mean? Is this a thing???? I’m so sorry that this happened. Praise God you’re ok." In response, Mayfield appeared to describe what had purportedly happened to her as an attempted abduction.

Updating the original post, Mayfield wrote, "So many people have asked how I knew the sunglasses were a sign of potential trafficking. My background is journalism so I’ve seen other stories of traffickers putting objects such as sunglasses on the [car door] handle or money/flyers on the windshield making the victim take more time to get in the car so they have more time to grab them."

At least a couple Facebook users, including someone who Mayfield said she later blocked, appeared to challenge the legitimacy of the story. Mayfield refuted that allegation that she had fictionalized any part of, or the entire, ordeal. She wrote: "I’d never wear cheap sunglasses that I’d put on the [car door] handle myself…. or force myself to sob uncontrollably on the phone with my mom while I drive home bc I thought the car was following me."

Contacting Police and Target Corporate

"Did you call the police????," another commenter wrote. "That should’ve been done if you saw him back inside the store. They could’ve run a check on him & had his information."

Nowhere in the Facebook post, nor in comments, did Mayfield indicate that anyone called law enforcement about the purported incident. Because it was still possible that a witness, or Mayfield herself, could have contacted police without making it known on social media, we decided to contact the Plano Police Department ourselves. By phone, a spokesperson told us that they had no record of anyone calling about any such incident.

We also reached out to the Target store in Plano. After asking for a manager, we were directed to contact Target Corporate. (A guest services employee said it was the company's policy to direct press inquiries up the chain of command.) We sent Target Corporate, as well as Mayfield, several questions by email and will update this story if we receive responses.

We also attempted to reach Mayfield via Facebook to no avail.

Debunked Rumors About Cars and 'Trafficking'

Separate from this alleged incident about sunglasses on a car door handle, we've debunked various rumors about organizers of human trafficking or sex trafficking schemes purportedly doing various things to cars to lure victims.

For example, we've debunked rumors that claimed traffickers or criminals were tagging cars, as well as leaving cheese, shirts, water bottles, roses, coins, zip ties, and other items somewhere on vehicles, supposedly in attempts to distract potential victims. Such rumors often spread on Facebook like wildfire, despite lacking any verifiable or investigative data.

Sources:

Evon, Dan. “Are Sex Traffickers Tagging Cars as Potential Targets?” Snopes.com, 25 Aug. 2020, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/sex-traffickers-tagging-cars/.

LaCapria, Kim. “Coins in Car Door Theft Warning.” Snopes.com, 5 Jan. 2016, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/coin-car-handle-warning/.

LaCapria, Kim, and David Mikkelson. “Are Carjackers Using Discarded Shirts as Bait to Lure Victims?” Snopes.com, 22 Feb. 2017, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/shirt-windshield-carjack/.

MacGuill, Dan. “Are Roses on Cars Part of a Kentucky Sex Trafficking Plot?” Snopes.com, 11 Dec. 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/roses-car-kentucky-sex-trafficking/.

Mayfield, Mollie. Facebook, 1 June 2022, https://www.facebook.com/mollie.mayfield/.

Mikkelson, David. “Does a Water Bottle on Your Car Hood Mean You Are in Danger?” Snopes.com, 15 Feb. 2021, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/water-bottle-hood-kidnapping/.

---. “Does Finding Cheese on Your Car Hood Mean You Are in Danger?” Snopes.com, 8 May 2021, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cheese-hood-kidnapping/.

Palma, Bethania. “Are Sex Traffickers Leaving Zip Ties on Cars, Mailboxes of Potential Victims?” Snopes.com, 29 July 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/zip-ties-cars-mailboxes/.

Police | Plano, TX - Official Website. https://www.plano.gov/1061/Police.

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

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