Motor Industry News
Drivers hoaxed as e-mail scam does the rounds - again.
Motorists who have received an official looking e-mail about police warning of new carjacking scam sweeping the country have been the victims of a massive hoax. Strathclyde Police have been inundated with calls from the public after a bogus email was apparently leaked from their Force Intelligence Bureau about a new trick used by car thieves.
The internet message, which has spread like wildfire across the UK, carries a warning about crooks sticking a leaflet to the rear window of parked cars to lure unsuspecting women drivers out of their vehicles when they suddenly notice their view has been obstructed.
The message claims that most drivers leave their engines running while they get out to remove the paper and that’s when the thief jumps in a drives away with the car and its contents.
The warning posted in the name of Detective Constable Brian Molloy from Strathclyde Police claims that the scheme is now being used in Glasgow and Manchester and is making its way across the country.
However Strathclyde Police has never issued such a warning. “It’s an urban legend. There was an internal email that wasn’t meant to go outside, because we’d been made aware of incidents by other forces.” said a spokeswoman for Strathclyde police.
“We’ve never had any of these incidents where someone sticks a leaflet on a car’s back windscreen. It’s just the latest in a long line of urban legends to have duped the public and the authorities into believing something without checking.”
The scam detailed in the bogus e-mails is just one of a number of urban fairy tales which have been circulating for years.
Mycarcheck.com, the vehicle history checking company, recently carried out research into the most common motoring myths and found that the ‘rear-windscreen scam’ had been around for at least 10 years.
“It is possible that, like a lot of urban legends, there was a hint of truth somewhere along the line in that maybe once a car thief somewhere did try this technique and it’s being doing the rounds ever since,” said Roger Powell, General manager of mycarcheck.com.
“Almost everybody has one or more of these stories and they seem to happen to a friend of friend. Now that the internet has made the spread of information so easy, and with new drivers coming along all the time, these stories keep getting updated and passed around as fact.”
“Many of them have been in circulation for 40 years or more and most are harmless,” said Mr Powell. “However some myths, like using tin foil to jam speed traps or sucking on a penny to beat the breathalyser, can be dangerous and lead to trouble. The only sure way to avoid a speeding ticket or a drink-driving ban is not to break the law in the first place."
The 10 most common motoring myths identified by mycarcheck.com were:
1 Red cars get more speeding tickets than other colours because cops play motorway snooker.
Contrary to popular belief, red vehicles do not get more tickets from bored police officers playing a form of motorway snooker as they score points on the colour of different cars they stop. However the story has been around since the 1970s and is still popular.
2. Hand-held radar picks up fighter plane by mistake and almost gets policeman killed.
A story which has been doing the rounds since the mid-1990s involves a policeman who clocks a car on his hand-held radar gun doing more than 300 mph. Puzzled he later discovers that it had picked up a very low-flying RAF jet flying on the horizon. An added twist is that when he complains to the military he's told the pilot had almost shot at him because the aircraft mistook the radar gun signal for a missile attack.
3. Drunk attempts escape after being stopped by police and wakes to find police car in the garage.
Since the 1970s drivers have laughed at the tale of a drunk who, when stopped by police, manages to escape when they are distracted - only to wake the next morning to find he had taken their police car by mistake and parked it in his garage.
4. Hanging a CD from a rear view mirror will fool speed cameras.
Ever wondered why some lorry drivers have CDs hanging from their rear-view mirrors? Probably because they heard, wrongly, that by doing that or covering their hubcaps in tin-foil it would it would interfere with police radar guns and prevent a speeding ticket.
5. A car's bad performance is traced back to habit of woman driver hanging handbag on the choke.
Commonly used as an example of bad women drivers, this story appears to have been doing the rounds since the late 1940s. Most versions involve a puzzled mechanic who can’t find out what's wrong with a car his female customer keeps complaining about until he spots her driving off with her bag hanging on the manual choke.
6. Stolen car is returned with theatre tickets and when couple use them their house is burgled.
A story which has been told over and over for more than 50 years involves a couple who wake to find their car stolen from their drive. The next day it is returned with an anonymous note claiming the 'thief' had borrowed it to take his pregnant wife to hospital. He apologies and encloses two theatre tickets as a 'Thank You' but when the grateful couple go to the show their house is burgled.
7. Good Samaritan warns female driver of man hiding in back seat of her car.
A woman paying for petrol at an all-night filling station is confused when the attendant in the kiosk keeps waving at her. She ignores it but the man keeps frantically trying to warn her about something. On returning to her car she discovers a masked man hiding in the back seat.
8. Driver comes to sticky end driving between what he thinks are headlights of motorcycles.
A story which has been around since the 1940s involves a country driver who is forced off the highway by two laughing motorcyclists riding two abreast on the wrong side of the road. The next night, determined not to fall for the same trick twice, he drives straight for the oncoming lights only to drive head-on into an articulated lorry.
9. Carjackers place signs over window and steal cars when drivers get out to remove them.
A common scare story doing the rounds at the moment relates to criminals targeting women drivers in car parks by placing posters over the rear windows of valuable vehicles. The motorists don’t notice until they get in, start their engines and attempt to reverse out of the parking space. When they get out, leaving the motors running, to move the obstruction the thieves jump in and drive away.
10. Sucking on a penny or breath mint will fool a breathalyser.
A story which has been around at least since the early 1990s and which probably originated in America where it was wrongly believed among many young drivers that the copper content of a penny would cause a breathalyser to give a negative reading.