Skip to main content

As if there wasn’t enough stuff to fear when looking for your car in a parking lot, there’s yet another rumor concerning driving safety. In the past, we reported about finding a water bottle stuck in your car’s wheel well and what to do if you find a $100 bill on the windshield of a car. But now, you might want to look out for zip ties tied to your car’s side mirror or door handle. Here’s what it means and if you should be wary of it in the wild.

What’s the story behind finding a zip tie on your car door?

A zip tie on a car door mirror.
A zip tie on a car door mirror | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

According to Internet lore, finding a zip tie tied to your car’s door or side mirror could indicate sex trafficking. No, it doesn’t mean that there’s a person inside your car being sex trafficked; it actually means that your car, or any other car, was marked by a potential sex trafficker, and they could follow you home to claim their next victim.

Here’s a story told in an article published by a radio station in Montana called Mix 97.1. A man from Billings named Michael allegedly said the following:

“His wife left from Costco and proceeded to Winco and noticed a car following her. She did some business at Winco, left the lot and the car was following her again! She got on the interstate to head home, and the car got caught by a red light. She stopped at a restaurant in Laurel when she noticed a zip tie on the rear door handle of her car!”

Is the story true or false?

Cars parallel parked on a main street down town
Parallel parked cars | via JOEY MCLEISTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

A harrowing tale, for sure. However, it’s easy to take its validity with a grain of salt. Especially considering we don’t know what happened with the car following her afterward. Regardless, the zip-tie rumor has been proven to be false.

The Polaris Project, which is a group that fights human sex trafficking, reported on the subject of zip ties, stating:

“Rumors about the use of zip ties or marking of vehicles by traffickers have been proven to be false. One of the most pervasive myths about human trafficking is that it always – or often – involves kidnapping or otherwise physically forcing someone into a situation. In reality, most human traffickers use psychological means such as tricking, defrauding, manipulating or threatening victims into providing commercial sex or exploitative labor.”

The folks at further weighed on the validity of the rumor, saying that it was spread around the Internet in 2018. For example, many Twitter users from the San Angelo, Texas, area copied and pasted the message below:

However, the local San Angelo police quickly verified that there were no reports of zip ties being used to mark cars for sex trafficking or kidnapping. Other reports of finding wires or zip ties attached to car doors date back as far as 2015. However, they were also found to be rumors as well.

What could the zip tie on your car door possibly mean?

A police officer patrols a back alley way.
A police officer patrols a back alley way. | via Getty Images

Although there isn’t much cause for concern if you find a zip tie on your car door, it might be someone pranking you. Sure, it’s harmless, but you should be wary of your surroundings if you find one. It may be a good idea to cut the zip tie off your car as soon as possible. If you’re really scared, you can alert the authorities.

After all, although the whole situation is a hoax, you can never be too careful.