snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Crime

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 17 May 2009, 02:56 AM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,676
Icon18 Man in white van 'an urban myth'

In recent years, many media reports about men in vans attempting to snatch children off the streets has played on a parent's greatest fear.

But criminologists say most of the reports are false, and the story about the man in the white van has become an urban myth.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2...16/2572552.htm
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 17 May 2009, 03:11 AM
Altered Statesman
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Around here, men in white vans are more likely to try and sell you a stolen surround sound system or stolen power tools than snatch a kid. Saying that, there was a report the other day in the news of a guy in a van trying to snatch a child not too far from my house.

In Australia, it's usually beige panel vans that child snatchers drive.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 17 May 2009, 05:45 AM
Little Pink Pill's Avatar
Little Pink Pill Little Pink Pill is offline
 
Join Date: 03 September 2005
Location: California
Posts: 5,562
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
But criminologists say most of the reports are false, and the story about the man in the white van has become an urban myth.
It's been an urban joke for a while now.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 17 May 2009, 09:12 AM
Mr. Billion's Avatar
Mr. Billion Mr. Billion is offline
 
Join Date: 09 July 2005
Location: Kansas
Posts: 3,098
Default

Somebody apparently attempted to abduct a kid in Wichita, KS about a week ago by luring her near his vehicle with candy. Not a white van, but "a black pickup, possibly a Chevrolet, with red stripes, tinted windows and two large antennas."

http://www.kansas.com/690/story/806238.html
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 17 May 2009, 11:01 AM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 23,087
Default

Is that what "white van man" means in the USA? In the UK it's just a small tradesperson who probably cuts you up in traffic while reading The Sun.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 18 May 2009, 12:41 AM
Altered Statesman
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Is that what "white van man" means in the USA? In the UK it's just a small tradesperson who probably cuts you up in traffic while reading The Sun.
Could you imagine placing an ad in the 'Jobs Wanted' section of a local paper for a 'white van man' hehe.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 18 May 2009, 09:12 AM
Mr. Billion's Avatar
Mr. Billion Mr. Billion is offline
 
Join Date: 09 July 2005
Location: Kansas
Posts: 3,098
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Is that what "white van man" means in the USA? In the UK it's just a small tradesperson who probably cuts you up in traffic while reading The Sun.
Speaking of alternative meanings for the same term: "small tradesperson who probably cuts you up" to me seems to describe somebody who attacks you with a knife. I'm guessing getting "cut up in traffic" means having another vehicle that's slightly ahead and to the side of you move directly in front of you, forcing you to brake. But I'd honestly never encountered that form of the phrase. Usually around here people say "cut off in traffic," which actually sounds even more gruesome.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 18 May 2009, 09:31 AM
James G's Avatar
James G James G is offline
 
Join Date: 11 January 2004
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,680
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Is that what "white van man" means in the USA? In the UK it's just a small tradesperson who probably cuts you up in traffic while reading The Sun.
I've seen a few people with the user-name 'whitevanman' online. I'm just wondering what various Americans must be thinking. (Or possibly they were American and I had the wrong end of the stick)
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 18 May 2009, 11:04 AM
DemonWolf's Avatar
DemonWolf DemonWolf is offline
 
Join Date: 24 April 2002
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 13,114
Wolf

I think that the legend probably arose because it seems that the majority of commercial vans, especially the kind with no windows at all, are most often white. That type of van would also be perfect for staging a kidnapping. Large entryway, windowless cargo area, large enough for the kidnapper to enter with the victim to restrain, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 18 May 2009, 12:26 PM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Is that what "white van man" means in the USA? In the UK it's just a small tradesperson who probably cuts you up in traffic while reading The Sun.
White van man (a tradesperson) is such a common stereotype in the UK that a Ford Transit TV ad used white van man images and a Slade soundtrack and showed white vans on a motorway equating to the spine (as in vital nervous system) of Britain.

Cat-stealing by people in small "light-colour" vans is often reported in this area. I always dismissed it as a myth until a friend saw one of her cats claw free of a person who'd grabbed it and was getting into a light coloured van (Astra type). She lost a couple of her other cats at the same time, believed to be to the same people (it was reported to local police)
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 18 May 2009, 12:28 PM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by James G View Post
I've seen a few people with the user-name 'whitevanman' online. I'm just wondering what various Americans must be thinking. (Or possibly they were American and I had the wrong end of the stick)
I was a "white van gal" here at work, because I helped some colleagues move from one flat to another, or pick up furniture/appliances, and they hadn't held a licence long enough to hire a van. So I did the van-driving for them
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 18 May 2009, 12:59 PM
Andrew of Ware's Avatar
Andrew of Ware Andrew of Ware is offline
 
Join Date: 22 April 2003
Location: Ware, Hertfordshire, England
Posts: 7,542
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by llewtrah View Post
I was a "white van gal" here at work, because I helped some colleagues move from one flat to another, or pick up furniture/appliances, and they hadn't held a licence long enough to hire a van. So I did the van-driving for them
Bah. So you're the one who cut me up on the A414.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 18 May 2009, 01:09 PM
purpleiguana purpleiguana is offline
 
Join Date: 26 October 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 12,143
Default

Ahh, but the "man in the white van" thing was used on L&O: SVU. Doncha know that if it happens on TV, it's true?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 18 May 2009, 01:25 PM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 23,087
Default

I just noticed the story's from Australia, not the USA.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 18 May 2009, 01:54 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2007
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 17,988
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by llewtrah View Post
Cat-stealing by people in small "light-colour" vans is often reported in this area. I always dismissed it as a myth until a friend saw one of her cats claw free of a person who'd grabbed it and was getting into a light coloured van (Astra type). She lost a couple of her other cats at the same time, believed to be to the same people (it was reported to local police)
How does one get one's house on the route of this most sanguinary service?
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 18 May 2009, 02:02 PM
Aud 1 Aud 1 is offline
 
Join Date: 05 October 2005
Location: Missouri
Posts: 6,955
Default

A local kidnapper used a white pickup truck. Not close enough?
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 18 May 2009, 02:34 PM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
Bah. So you're the one who cut me up on the A414.
Not guilty - I was on the A132

I love driving white vans.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 18 May 2009, 03:04 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,676
Shifty Eyes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Altered Statesman View Post
Around here, men in white vans are more likely to try and sell you a stolen surround sound system
Or a legitimately obtained, cheap, crappy sound system that buyers mistakenly assume is stolen and therefore must be an expensive, high quality one.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 20 May 2009, 12:16 PM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Or a legitimately obtained, cheap, crappy sound system that buyers mistakenly assume is stolen and therefore must be an expensive, high quality one.
When someone's offering new Arcam kit (or other top-of-the-range name) from the back of a van very cheap, it's very obviously stolen or counterfeit. The Arcam amp I coveted cost more than my entire rack system hi-fi (none of which was a cheapo brand).
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 20 May 2009, 01:43 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,676
Roll eyes

Quote:
Originally Posted by llewtrah View Post
When someone's offering new Arcam kit (or other top-of-the-range name) from the back of a van very cheap, it's very obviously stolen or counterfeit.
And when someone's offering a cheap, non-top-of-the-range sound system out of the back of a van, they're often expecting that ignorant buyers will assume it's a stolen, valuable, high-quality one and pay accordingly -- a rip-off that has the added bonus of not being (as) illegal as selling actual stolen goods is.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 12:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.