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The crafty ways criminals have to commit car theft seemingly know no bounds. Sure, having a good security system, locking your car, and good parking practices can help reduce the risk of your car being stolen. However, those precautions really only help when you aren’t in the car. What about when you are? There’s no shortage of car thefts that happen in broad daylight, so it’s essential to be on the lookout. One thing to look out for is money on your car’s windshield.

What does it mean if there’s money on your windshield?

US Money, laid out in rows of 100 dollar bills
US $100 bills | Mykola Tys/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

According to Newsweek, the idea typically involves a $100 bill. Often, it isn’t even a real one. Car thieves will place the money under the windshield wiper of a car they desire and wait for the owner to return. When the owner gets in their car and starts it, they’ll often notice the money afterward. Then, when they get out of the running car to examine or grab the money, nearby thieves will rush over, hop in, and take the car.

It seems like a very bold play. However, on the surface, it does make decent sense. If you’re going to boldly attempt to steal a car with the owner standing right there, you’ll need a good distraction. Who doesn’t get intrigued by the mysterious appearance of cold hard cash? Additionally, using this technique instead of a weapon could, in theory, bring on a lesser charge if caught. Though, this is certainly not a recommendation. In general, it’s best to avoid stealing peoples’ cars altogether.

Ultimately, if you find yourself in this type of situation, the best play is undoubtedly to call the police and walk away. However, if you notice it after you’ve already gotten in and started your vehicle, it’s best to is to simply drive away with the money under your windshield. Whether or not its real money is not worth risking your vehicle and getting back out for. Ensure the doors are locked and vacate the area.

Is this an actual theft tactic, or is it just an urban legend?

Thief breaks into car late at night with a crowbar
A thief breaking into a car | Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

You’d like to think that there’s nobody bold enough to commit this kind of thievery. However, carjacking rates are going through the roof, and news outlets are even warning of it becoming some sort of game for teens. So, if you run into this situation, it’s best to play it safe and call the police.

According to Newsweek, a Maryland assistant attorney general was informed of a case involving this tactic in Baltimore in 2014. In December 2021, similar incidents were reported throughout Toledo, Ohio. Additionally, in April 2022, Georgia police began receiving reports of money under windshields and warning residents to remain cautious.

In May 2022, OnFocus News reports that Marshfield, Wisconsin police warned drivers to watch out for thieves leaving money on windshields after a woman found cash upon returning to her car at a shopping mall. Additionally, a Snopes article discredits this tactic with a bit of a caveat. Snopes states that there’s no sudden crime wave. The 2004 article does admit, however, that it’s possible that thieves have used this tactic.

At any rate, it’s best just to keep this tactic in mind if you run into this situation. Call the police and immediately return to safety. It’s not worth taking the risk!


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