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Don't Flash Your Headlights!

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Car with headlights on
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Online variants of a familiar urban legend claim that innocent people who flash their headlights at gang members' cars will be chased down and killed as part of a gang initiation game.

Description: Online rumor / Urban legend
Circulating since: Sep. 2005 (this version)
Status: FALSE (see details below)


Text example:
Email contributed by Kris C., Sep. 16, 2005:

Subject: FW: Read & Heed

Police officers working with the DARE program has issued this warning: If you are driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights on, DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT THEM! This is a common Bloods gang member "initiation game" that goes like this:

The new gang member under initiation drives along with no headlights, and the first car to flash their headlights at him is now his "target". He is now required to turn around and chase that car, then shoot and kill every individual in the vehicle in order to complete his initiation requirements.

Police Depts across the nation are being warned that September 23rd and 24th is the "blood" initiation weekend. Their intent is to have all the new bloods nationwide drive around on Friday and Saturday nights with their headlights off. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash to warn them that their lights are off. Make sure you share this information with all the drivers in your family!

Please Foward this message to all your friends and family members to inform them about this initiation ritual. You can save someone's life if you heed to this warning.



Analysis: False. Other versions of this message have circulated online and off since the early 1990s, yet police gang units worldwide continue to insist they're unaware of any "initiation game" involving the killing of innocent people who flash their headlights at gang members' cars.

The above variant claims the initiation rites will be conducted by a specific gang on specific dates, but apart from those variables the message is virtually identical to warnings distributed via fax and email as early as 1993, and via social media as recently as 2013.

Compare it to this one, an email dated Nov. 1998:

...A police officer who works with the DARE Program has asked that this warning be passed on to anyone who drives: If you are driving after dark and see an oncoming car with NO headlights on -- DO NOT flash your lights at them!!! This is a new GANG MEMBER INITIATION game!

The new member drives along with no headlights and the first car to flash their headlights at them is the "TARGET". The new member is required to chase the car and do whatever is required by the gang to complete the initiation requirements...

SO, BE WARNED AND BE CAREFUL!
 

And this one, posted in a gaming forum in Nov. 2010:

BE CAREFULL!!!!!!!!!!

PLEASE DON'T FLASH YOUR HEADLIGHTS @ ANY CAR WITH *NO LIGHTS ON!* Police officers is working with the DARE program & has issued this Warning! If u are driving after dark & see a on-coming car with no headlights on, "DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT THEM". This is a common "Bloods" gang member "initiation game", The new gang member, under initiation, drives along with no headlights on & the 1st car 2 flash their headlights @ them is now his "target". He is now required 2 turn around & chase that car, then shoot & kill every individual in the vehicle in order 2 complete his initiation requirements. Police Departments across the nation r being warned! The gang's intent is 2 have "bloods", nationwide, drive around on Friday & Saturday nights with their headlights off. In order 2 be accepted into the gang, they7 have 2 shoot & kill all individuals n the 1st auto that does a "courtesy" flash! Pls

Don't believe everything you read!

Sources and further reading:

Flash Your Headlights and Die!
About.com: Urban Legends, 7 December 2011

What Is an Urban Legend?
About.com: Urban Legends

Chubb SA Response to Gang Headlight Warning
Chubb Fire & Security SA (Pty) Ltd, 11 June 2013

Crime: Separating the Fact from Fiction
IOL News (South Africa), 9 August 2008

Safe to Blink Car Headlights?
NPR, 31 January 2006

Urban Legends Continue to Haunt the Net
Albany Herald, 10 April 2002

Have You Heard You Shouldn't Flash Your Headlights?
Orlando Sentinel, 5 December 1998

Last updated 10/17/13

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