Could predator use item tied to car to lure victim out?

Woman's social media picture goes viral, sparks safety warning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Authorities have put out a warning about a tactic that could be used to lure women out of their cars after a Michigan woman's picture went viral on social media.

The 19-year-old woman found a flannel shirt tied to her car's windshield wipers one night and drove off instead of removing it because she said she felt unsafe.

Ashley Hardacre said she returned to her car after a late night at work in Michigan and knew something wasn't right about the shirt being tied to her car, so she drove away and called police.

Nearly 100,000 people have shared Hardacre's photo on Facebook because of the warning that came with it.

People have been suggesting online that the case could be related to human trafficking, a robbery or even a kidnapping, but the truth is police investigating the incident don't know what the intentions were.

But authorities said just to be on the safe side, if you spot something unusual tied to your car, stay in the vehicle, drive somewhere safe and call police.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said following that advice likely saved Hardacre's life that night.

"If you notice it before you get into your car, the best thing to do is look around to see if people are sitting in their cars, walk around your car to see if someone is hanging out in the area,” Smith said.

He said predators often use tactics like tying clothing or posting notes on a windshield to lure women out of their cars because they can't be easily swept off with the wipers.

In her post, Hardacre mentioned that her parents had recently told her about potential tricks that predators could use to lure women out of their cars.

It's a good idea for families to have such discussions about the best ways to protect themselves from predators.