Free-Range Kids

Police Warn Drivers About Nonexistent Danger of Personalized Bumper Stickers

Pitiful local news report

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Burglar
Dreamstime

Personalized bumper stickers: a cute way to outfit the exterior of your vehicle with a dash of individuality, or an invitation to every predator in a 10 mile radius that says, "please, hurt me and my children"?

It's certainly the former, admits this pitiful local news story that nevertheless humors the concerns of a paranoid woman and caution-crazy police sergeant. From clickondetroit.com:

Bumper stickers have become an open book about our lives, from how many children we have to where we go to school.

However, police say you might want to think twice about sharing that information.

We live in a time where people share just about anything, but Barb Rupas isn't one of them.

"First of all I like a pristine car, and second of all I don't need to let other people know what my views are or what I think about things," said Rupas. "People are crazy in this world." …

Although there have been no reported crimes in Troy connected to bumper stickers, Troy police Sgt. Meghan Lehman wants drivers to consider the dangers.

"They could just know a little more information about you than you may want them to know," said Lehman. "For instance if it's a single parent family, you only had the one parent figure. That could reveal more than you want someone to know."

There are indeed some crazy people out there, but the idea that one is lurking around every corner waiting for any excuse to pounce is pure fantasy. Indeed, as the authors of this story are forced to admit, bumper stickers have never been known to encourage criminal activity. Why, then, are we being asked to "consider the dangers"? There are no dangers!

Unfortunately, odd media reports exactly like this one seem to pop up from time to time. Reason's Lenore Skenazy tackled one last year:

Readers — Here's an alarming idea with no basis in fact, as far as I can fathom. The idea:

Have a picture of little Bobby in his football gear and a "My Son is an Honor Student at Kelley Middle School" bumper sticker?

Congratulations, you just told the world and anyone who may want to harm your child, where they can find him.

Because otherwise, no predator could ever find a school football player at…a school? Possibly playing football? …

"Congratulations" — author. You have just succumbed to Worst-First Thinking: Thinking up the very worst thing that could happen thanks to some dumb little stickers, and are now spreading this bizarre fear around. And what of all those predators who only pounce on honor students of the month?

Safety paranoia seems to bring out the worst in everyone: neighbors, cops, and especially local reporters.