Free-Range Kids

Baltimore Mayor Says Men in White Vans Are Snatching Young Girls for Sex Trafficking

"It's all over Facebook."

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White van hysteria has hit a new high, with Baltimore Mayor Jack Young warning his citizens not to even park near a white van. People in at least one of these vehicles are coming to enslave young women, force them into prostitution, murder them, and sell their body parts, suggested the mayor.

Seriously.

"We're getting reports of somebody in a white van trying to snatch up young girls for human trafficking and for selling body parts, I'm told, so we have to really be careful, because there's so much evil going on, not just in the city of Baltimore, but around the country," said Young, according to WBAL-TV.

None of this is true. The mayor has combined a bunch of practically non-existent fears into one hairball of hysteria.

When asked for the source of his information by the skeptical local reporter Vanessa Herring, he said: "It's all over Facebook."

And that it is. All over. This incredibly thorough CNN report tracked down viral postings of the white van story and seems to have found the origin. A November 13 post by a Baltimore resident claimed she had seen two men in a white van outside a gas station who would not stop staring at her. She made the mental leap from guys in a van to OMG put it on Facebook and that was all it took. In a twist, the woman even wrote that she thought other people on social media were exaggerating when they posted about their terrifying white van encounters, but now that she had this terrifying (non) encounter of her own, she was a believer. Those two men outside the gas station were "part of a bigger story," she wrote. "I don't think they are two random guys."

For the record: I do. There were about half a million commercial vans sold in 2017 alone. The average vehicle lasts 10 years. There are highways full of guys in white vans all across America, because that's what a whole lot of them drive for work. In the back are… tools. Being freaked out by a van is like being freaked out by a pigeon.

For another reality check, I looked at the U.S. Department of Justice statistics about child kidnappings. Here they are. You'll see that the stats show abductions are not going up, and that stranger abductions are incredibly rare. The number of minors (under age 18) kidnapped and killed by a stranger is about nine a year, in a country of about 65 million minors. Every single death of every single kid is tragic, obviously. But the man-in-van-equals-mayhem equation is just not something we have to worry about. We can't always believe what we see online or in things like these home security ads.

When I interviewed David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Resource Center, he told me he had heard of no cases of a child being snatched from a parent in a public place and sex-trafficked. Not one.

To sound reasonable, many people default to, "Well, even if this particular rumor isn't true, it's still a good reminder to pay attention to your surroundings." Which is true—when it comes to some surroundings.

Pay attention when crossing the street.

Pay attention when driving.

Pay attention when someone forwards you a post based on zero evidence and a whole lot of hooey. It's not a good deed to sustain a baseless rumor.

Try to refute the fear with facts. Or at least don't press share.

And to all you guys with white vans out there: Good luck.

NEXT: Crowd-Checking Forthcoming Amicus Brief on the Solicitation Exception in U.S. v. Sineneng-Smith

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  1. This is exactly what a guy in a white van would say…

    1. I bet Lenore drives a white van. I bet she does even when it’s not Hallowe’en!

      How come it’s never a black van, or brown, or red, or yellow? Racism is all around us, it seems.

      1. White is responsible for all bad things.

        Most vans are white, which makes for more hysteria.

        1. Yep, work vans are racist. Probably work, too.

          1. “Probably work, too.”

            Just angling for a fight, huh?

        2. Ted Bundy snatched girls while driving a VW Beetle. That takes skill. Today’s predators are just lazy.

        1. Back when I was a kid, we were told to stay away from blue cars parked near playgrounds because the owner was likely a compulsive masturbator named Bob, Not quite as macabre as a white van looking to chop up kids for body parts

          1. Ok that made me laugh; I thought Bob was your uncle.

    2. I didn’t know Buttplug lived in Baltimore.

  2. The national statistics for kidnapping and white van sales say absolutely nothing about a local case where 2 guys in 1 white van within a particular geographical area were suspected of being shady. This analysis, if you want to call it that, is a complete non sequitur. It doesn’t mean the local hysteria is accurate either. But jumping from ‘two guys in a white van were stalking me, they must be kidnappers and organ thieves’ is literally no different from jumping from ‘there are tens of thousands of vans in the United States of America and kidnappings are down so that white van parked at the playground in East Bumblefuck is completely harmless’. In fact the latter might possibly be the single most retarded argument I have ever heard put forward as a serious suggestion.

    1. Is this your new sock, James Cameron/Jeff Gordon?

    2. What local case? There’s no case. There’s not even anything “shady”.

    3. No, but the stats combined with the fact that there were no actual reports of men in a white van in Baltimore doing anything bad to children says everything about the actual lack of a local case or a case anywhere of men in white vans snatching up little girls.
      The point of the piece isn’t to refute the story of men in white vans stealing girls in Baltimore. That can be done in one sentence since it didn’t happen. The point is to tell people to stop freaking out about stupid crap and worrying about practically non-existent dangers.

      1. “…stop freaking out about stupid crap and worrying about practically non-existent dangers.”

        Sounds like something a lascivious pedophile would say.

  3. EVERYONE PANIC!

    1. Just think of how many clowns could fit in there!

      1. Now you’ve just crossed the pale…

  4. The only van to be worried about in Baltimore is a police van giving you a Baltimore Sleigh Ride.

    1. Freddie Gray would agree.

  5. Bet it’s them damn clowns. They changed form a little car to a van so as not to be noticed. Like the man said, there are millions of them.

    1. A huge van with one clown? Must be hipsters clowns doing it ironically.

      Ironically Alone In A Suspicious White Van by Child Molesting Hipster Clowns… the lyrics practically write themselves, now I just need to get the band together.

      1. Doesn’t Insane Clown Posse already exist?

        1. Faygo ads abound

    2. Hey now…if the Dem candidates are all riding around in a van, snatching little girls, I’m sure they have a very good reason.

  6. And to all you guys with white vans out there: Good luck.

    Thanks. All this hysteria has me thinking of changing to a sedan when I traffic children.

  7. Baltimore Mayor Jack Young

    Has he been indicted yet?

  8. White van hysteria

    That right there is a good band name.

    1. Damn you! And damn my inattentiveness!

    2. On the other hand, Innocuous White Van is someone’s WiFi.

      1. There has been one (WIFI) in my neighborhood named FBI Surveillance Van.

  9. That’s all well and good, but what if it’s a WHITE DUDE with a MUSTACHE driving that white van?!?!?

    1. Like Vincent Price?

      1. Snidely Whiplash?

    2. That white dude’s got a pretty talented mustache?

    3. Wait, I did this all wrong – you know who else was white and had a mustache?

      1. An Über Van?

        1. *Ding ding ding* We have a winner!

      2. Unicorn Abattoir, in high school?

      3. Frida Kahlo?

        1. Those were the names of her eyebrows bro.

      4. Ron Swanson?

      5. Groucho Marx?

        Or was it Chico, Zeppo, Harpo, or Karl?

  10. “Baltimore Mayor Jack Young”

    What happened to the previous mayor? Did she get in a white van?

    1. Stephanie Pugh got in a black one. On her way to prison.

      1. It’s Catherine Pugh who is going to pison, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was the one before her that didn’t go to prison. The one before that was Sheila Dixon, who did go to prison. It’s hard to keep track of which of our elected officials are in the clink at any given moment here in Balmer.

        1. Neck and neck with Illinois governors, but they are limited to two terms. One in office, one is jail.

        2. True story: after three straight mayors left office under a cloud of criminal prosecution, a local Baltimore TV news reporter asked a local politico on the air whether the city needed to elect a “new type of person” as mayor. This was, of course, immediately taken as a reference to the prior mayors’ race, not their criminality. The reporter was first forced to apologize and then was taken off the air.

  11. Only white vans? What about a black van with a thin red stripe down the sides curving up to a big red spoiler on the back of the roof? I have a hard time believing those guys were court martialed for a crime they didn’t commit.

    1. Every week those guys drugged a poor black man and flew him over state lines. That’s not something innocent people do.

      1. And they harbored a escapee from a mental hospital. And the leader, a WHITE GUY, dressed up as a Asian. Need I say more?

  12. No doubt the two men in the white van were white as well, and probably wearing MAGA hats.

  13. I drive a white van, but I make sure to reassure people that I’m not armed and dangerous by dressing as a clown and with a “Free Candy” sign on the side of the van.

    1. I’m on to you. I tell my kids to only go up to white vans if they’re offering to let them pet the puppies.

  14. Speaking of panic, it’s time for Biden’s campaign manager to do so. Guy just lost it at his most recent rally, forgot (again) which state he was in, and then when a guy asked about his son and Ukraine (guy was a Warren supporter asking a legit question, not a heckler), Biden snaps and starts calling him fat, a liar, challenging him to a PUSHUP CONTEST. He also said the guy was “too old to vote for me”. The spin’s already starting to try and cover it up

    1. If the universe is really laughing behind my back, I hope ‘hands on’ Joe gets the nomination, and beats Trump. The Republicans gain control of the House, and begin impeachment proceedings as Joe leaves his swearing in ceremony. The charges; bribery. The proof; his broadcast confession. Whoever was president of vice commits suicide, naming Hillary in their will to become President.

      1. Biden names Hillary as vice, and she aids the prosecution during the impeachment.

        1. We’re getting reports of “Joe/Hillary 2020” signs on the side of a white van. It’s all over Facebook.

    2. I read that story too. Had to dig super deep, it was only the SECOND largest story in the headline section of CNNs home page. God damm liberal media trying to bury the story.

  15. I roll my eyes every time one of these posts about how human traffickers “mark your car” in a parking lot with some thing or another, or some story about some guy a lady saw near the bathroom at target must have been looking for trafficking victim.

    Everyone who posts that shit gets accolades and thanks from their friends, so they get to feel like a hero for literally nothing. No one is safer, and in fact, poor guys who happen to be waiting for the restroom at Target get treated with suspicion and risk getting hassled by LEOs.

    1. And I’ll let you on in a little secret: guys stare at women all the time- it means they think she’s attractive.

      1. Or just unbelievably ugly. Like, “Would you get a load of that? I didn’t know they made women that ugly! I can’t stop staring!”

      2. It means they are horny.

  16. claimed she had seen two men in a white van outside a gas station who would not stop staring at her.

    “Why, I stood there for hours looking constantly hard at them and they just would not stop staring at me!”

  17. So, doesnt this confirm shithole status?
    If Trump criticizes Baltimore, it is an unconscionable attack on a MidAtlantic paradise
    But when you listen to Baltimore politicians talk about Baltimore, it comes across as an unlivable 3rd world hellscape

    1. Notice the article doesn’t mention what party the Mayor is in, ehh, ehh?

      1. I think it’s a pretty safe guess on that one.

  18. >>Pay attention when someone forwards you a post based on zero evidence

    Binion?

  19. We need common sense van control.

    I propose:

    A ban on selling new white vans.

    Confiscation of all existing white vans.

    A prohibition on high capacity gas tanks. Who need more than 9 gallons of gas?

    1. Are you suggesting that white van are really assault vans?

  20. Did the van have “free candy” badly spray painted on the side?

  21. Anything is justified when it allows us to harass and demonize people we don’t know based on superficial traits.

    1. Anything is justified when it allows us to harass and demonize white people we don’t know based on superficial traits.

      FIFY

      1. No, you clearly missed the point of that joke by trying to make it a different joke.

  22. In this case, it may lack in facts; however, over the past half dozen years there have been incidents in Montgomery County involving a white van and young girls being approached.

    1. *snickers*

    2. They originally thought the beltway snipers used a white van and the cops were flooded with calls because every other vehicle on the road is a white van

  23. I’m gonna start marking cars with zip ties.

    Can we sue Facebook for spreading panic?

    1. I just drive around with one already on. It confuses the sex trafficers and when I confidently just get in my “mark” car, it gives me a lot of soccer mom street cred.

  24. If I could infect humans with some kind of virus thing, it would give them an autistic inability to lie. Or make their heads explode when they do something stupid. Maybe both.

  25. It’s always the people you’d least expect who apparently have a robust social media following – Russian spies, pedophiles…

  26. Damn it, they’re on to us. Now we’ve got to get the entire fleet painted blue!

  27. Has there ever been a single incident anywhere in the United States of some woman being grabbed in a white van and having her body parts sold?

    I sincerely doubt it, because I’d think that would be a really famous incident that everyone references frequently.

    1. I’ve watched every episode of 48 Hours Mystery which is basically all about white, middle class murders and, nope, thing there. They are usually just killed by their cheating husbands.

  28. More soccer mom hysteria that can only be abated by locking up lots of innocent black and brown people committing the crime of driving a white van.

    Has anyone performed a study to measure how many innocent men have been incarcerated in a losing attempt to satisfy privileged white women neurotics?

    1. About half a million are in the slammer for non violent drug crimes.

    2. There aren’t a lot of soccer moms in Baltimore City of the type you are thinking.

  29. Where can I read Lenore’s take on the impeachment flingfest?

  30. Sᴛᴀʀᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ! Gʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ sᴛᴜᴅᴇɴᴛs, sᴛᴀʏ-ᴀᴛ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴍᴏᴍs ᴏʀ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ɪɴᴄᴏᴍᴇ… Yᴏᴜ ᴏɴʟʏ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ ʀᴇʟɪᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ… Mᴀᴋᴇ $80 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏ $13000 ᴀ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʙʏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ ʟɪɴᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ… Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴇᴇᴋ
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  31. What most middle class white people don’t realize, is that there is a whole underworld of desperate people- drug addicts, prostitutes, the untreated mentally ill- who are much more apt to give a child to a person who can get them what they need in exchange for a child.

    If you were a sex trafficer, would you hang out at the Target in an upscale neighborhood hoping some soccer mom looks away from her kids long enough for you to snatch them up in an area without security cameras and then get away before the store security and the police are hot on your trail and, even if you got away, would spend the rest of their lives looking for their child?

  32. Neck and neck with Illinois governors, but they are limited to two terms. One in office, one is jail.

  33. Another reason for cross ocean linguistic confusion.

    The Brits already have a term “White van man” meaning “a selfish, inconsiderate driver who is mostly petit bourgeois and often aggressive. According to this stereotype, the “white van man” is typically an independent tradesperson, such as a builder, plumber or locksmith, self-employed, or running a small enterprise,…”

    Will “White van man” enter American vernacular to mean a “pedo white slaver” or some such.

    Just one more proof that George Bernard Shaw was right. 🙂

  34. If you get your news from Facebook, then you’re an idiot.

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