Social Question

raum's avatar

Why would someone put an orange sticker on a license plate?

Asked by raum (5135points) 1 month ago from iPhone

A woman was shopping at Safeway when a random woman informed her that a man had placed an orange sticker* on her license plate. Then a man came by and complimented her on having a nice car.

* like those circle stickers you get at office supply stores

What could be the significance of this whole exchange?

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19 Answers

Zaku's avatar

What state was this in?

Was it a square sticker of a round one, and where did he place it on the plate?

Some states have orange and red stickers to indicate teenage and/or probationary drivers.

If a random person were doing that, I’d tend to suspect a prank or that I was being targeted somehow.

Usually I kind of like random weird unexplained behavior, or even pranks in good humor, but something about this feels dangerous to me.

I’d ask the woman what the guy looked like.

And I’d be calling my bodyguards to escort my car and/or investigate who was placing orange stickers, and to follow the guy who made the comment in particular.

Or, lacking bodyguards, I might report it to the police and ask if they know anything about it.

And BTW, having anything unofficial on a license plate can get you pulled over in some places. e.g. Florida: “Nothing shall be placed upon the face of a Florida plate except as permitted by law or by rule or regulation of a governmental agency.”

Patty_Melt's avatar

I would tell him to get down there and scrape off his stupid, gummy sticker off my plate. I would then contact police.

It certainly sounds fishy. It reminds me of hobo code, used to mark houses which were generous, and who were not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^ She doesn’t know who the man that did it was.

Zaku's avatar

Unless the car frequently garners compliments, it seems likely that the man complimenting her on the car either was or knew the person who put the sticker on it, unless there’s some other reason why he happened to compliment her car right after it got a sticker. (From the statistical perspective that most cars visit Safeway parking lots hundreds of times without getting either stickers or compliments.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree but I wouldn’t go so far as to start something on that basis? “TAKE THAT STICKER OFF MY CAR AND I’M CALLING THE COPS!!”

Wait…did the man walk up to her in the store and compliment her car? If so it was a matter of stalking her, watching her get out of the car. Not sure what purpose the sticker served if he already knew who she was.

kritiper's avatar

Easier to trace the car back to where it’s normally kept for reasons of auto theft. Saying something to the owner is a terror tactic.

raum's avatar

@Zaku This was in California. Round sticker similar to these.

Apparently, there have been incidents in this particular location where one person will distract the target by saying that they dropped something or left their trunk open. And then a second person will either jump in the car or grab their purse.

Maybe the sticker is a similar distraction?

@Patty_Melt I just recently learned about that from watch old episodes of Mad Men! Pretty interesting.

@Dutchess_III The man walked up to her as she was coming out of the store.

@kritiper Someone else suggested something similar. How would that work though?

raum's avatar

Someone suggested that they may have been trying to disrupt license plate readers.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So he knew she belonged to that car? OK. That’s so weird. It means he was watching her. But I still don’t see any connection with a sticker.

raum's avatar

Yes. Weird and creepy. But still have no idea what the sticker is supposed to do.

kritiper's avatar

@raum The guy in the parking lot, who talked to the car owner, cased the car. Some other person, in a tracer car, watches for when you (the sticker) come out of the parking lot and follows you home. They note the location and come back later to steal the car.

Zaku's avatar

@kritiper Yeah, that is the type of tactic I was thinking it might be.

raum's avatar

But what’s the point of complimenting the woman on her car? Not exactly the most inconspicuous approach.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right? There are too many things that just don’t make sense. If they’re going to steal her car later, why don’t they just drive around in a rich part of town and steal random cars?

Zaku's avatar

We don’t pretend to know the exact intentions, but marking a car would be one way to communicate to someone else which one you mean… for whatever you have in mind. All we know is someone marked the license plate.

It might be because of something other than the car itself. Something they put in it. Her herself. It could be a poorly done surveillance. It could also be a gaslighting thing.

@raum is definitely right that it’s a weird thing for someone doing something nefarious to comment to the victim on the car. Unless it’s a totally random harmless coincidence. Is this car actually notably nice or remarkable somehow?

Cupcake's avatar

Maybe there wasn’t a sticker but, rather, this was a way to clearly distinguish which was her vehicle by her inspection of the license plate?

raum's avatar

@Zaku Not sure about the make and model of the car. But since the woman seemed to be thrown off by the comment, I’m guessing it’s not a common occurrence?

@Cupcake There was definitely a sticker. The woman removed it from her license plate as soon as she got home.

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III Most people who can afford nice cars usually have nice garages to keep them in. But that isn’t insurance against theft.
I heard this story long ago:
This guy had a beautiful Corvette with nice expensive tires and wheels, and he kept the car in his garage. One morning he opened the garage to find his car up on blocks and the tires/wheels gone.
So he had heavy duty eye bolts installed in the concrete floor, and chained each wheel to a separate bolt with heavy duty chains and locks.
When he opened the garage the next morning, the car and wheels were still there, all locked up, with the exception being that the car had been turned around.
And there was a note on the windshield:
“If we want it, we’ll take it.”
Would this intimidate you?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I, personally, think it’s most likely an urban legend, like this one.

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