This version bears a general similarity to the one we've already seen, but is also reminiscent of "The Knife in the Briefcase," an urban legend circulating online since the late '90s in which a woman survives a close call in a shopping mall parking lot with a "good samaritan" who turns out to be packing a knife, duct tape, and chloroform.
Email example contributed by G. Borland, 11 November 2002:
Fw: THIS ALERT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!
I wanted to share a TRUE story with all of you. I heard about this last week and found out, that it is indeed TRUE. This happened to Cathy Conaway's sister, who lives in North Guyton. She went to the Wal-Mart in Pooler about 11:00 one night about 1-2 weeks ago. (I'm sure this is familiar for a lot of us) When she parked her car, there was a van parked right next to her. She heard noise coming from inside but didn't see anyone in it. (didn't think much about it then)
About 1 a.m. she was leaving and noticed that the van was now parked in front of her vehicle. Getting a little nervous ( that gut feeling) she went back inside and asked if a security guard could walk her out. As they were loading her car, the van pulled out and left. As she got on the road, she noticed the same van behind her. She went a little ways (between Pooler and Faulkville) and her car began to spit and sputter. By this time she was really scared and called 911 from her cell phone. As she pulled over, the police was right there, and the van went on by.
While talking to the police the van had turned around and went back by. She pointed it out and the police went after it. The man inside was arrested and taken to jail, but was released on a $700 bond. In his van they found: HER gas cap, a gun, hunting knife, duct tape, rope, a gallon jug of sugar water, and two pairs of women's underwear!!!!!!!!!! After getting her vehicle checked out for the problem, it was determined that sugar and water had been poured into her gas tank.
They have found the man and he is back in jail. He is from Walterboro, S.C. I thought I would share this with you since Christmas shopping nights are just ahead. PLEASE be aware of your surroundings where ever you go. As for me, I'm getting a LOCKING gas cap. They sell them (where else but) Wal-Mart. Anyway, the bottom line is: BE CAREFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Remember the lady that went missing from Rincon several months ago? They found her car, I think in the Fred's parking lot, but still have not found her. Makes you wonder, doesn't it??????
Cautionary tales are meant to instruct, and in a vague sense these examples may be edifying even though they're false, in that they remind potential crime victims to take note of their surroundings and be wary of the advances of strangers when alone. But they also mislead, diverting attention to fictional scenarios and creating a climate of fear. Remember the fable of the boy who cried wolf? People will only be deceived so many times before they just stop listening, and that defeats the purpose.
Sources and further reading:
Don't Panic, Widespread Email Warning Women Just a Prank
Hickory Record (North Carolina), 16 March 2007
Another Urban Legend Gets Debunked
South Bend Tribune, 10 March 2007
Hoax Email Aimed at Women
WTOV-TV News, 28 February 2007
What If I Put Sugar in Someone's Gas Tank?
How Stuff Works
Last updated: 03/19/07