If You See This on Your Car, "Do Not Remove It With Your Bare Hand," Police Warn
The alert comes after a Texas woman was recently hospitalized after finding this on her vehicle.
Even though a car is a piece of your personal property, it often spends a lot of time in very public places. Because of this, it's not uncommon to come back to your vehicle and find something left on or around it. On the best days, a flyer might be tucked under your wiper. On worse days, a parking ticket could be glaring back at you from your windshield upon your return. Most car owners simply take the item off their vehicle and get on their way. But police are now warning that if you see one thing on your car, you shouldn't "remove it with your bare hand." Read on to see what law enforcement wants you to avoid touching.
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Police have issued warnings about new car-related threats recently.
Besides actively enforcing the law, the police can also work as a warning system for the public when they notice new types of crime, including car-related issues. Recently, authorities in Arlington, Virginia warned the public that there was an increase in driver's side airbag thefts in late spring specifically targeting Honda Civics, followed by reports of a rash of robberies in nearby Fairfax and Loudon counties, CBS-affiliate WUSA9 reported. Weeks later, police in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley issued a similar warning about thefts in their area, The Morning Call reported. As a result, authorities in Montgomery County, Maryland advised residents to park in well-lit areas and lock their vehicles, remove all valuables, and install a steering wheel locking device.
On Aug. 12, police in Memphis, Tennessee warned residents that car thieves had acquired a new tool for looking inside your vehicle: smartphone cameras. The latest trick allows criminals to surpass the privacy tint used in many cars and get a clear view without even having to snap a photo, CBS affiliate WREG reported. Authorities used the warning to remind the public of its ongoing "Stow It, Don't Show It Memphis" initiative, which urges car owners to remove all valuables before leaving or at least stash them out of sight.
But now, authorities say the public needs to be aware of a new type of vehicular threat.
Police are warning not to remove one item "with your bare hand" if you find it on your car.
Whether it's litter, leaves, or leaflets, it's normal behavior to take anything from your car that doesn't belong there before driving off. But now, police in Lousiana's Desoto Parish Sherrif's Office are warning the public that they should avoid touching any strange items left on their car, even if they look like regular litter or trash.
"If you are out and about and experience anything on your vehicle that had not been there before, do not remove it with your bare hand. Use caution," the authorities wrote in a Facebook post on Aug. 23.
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The warning stems from a recent incident in Texas that landed a woman in the hospital.
According to authorities, the alert comes after an incident in Houston, Texas last week. After celebrating her birthday at a local restaurant, Erin Mims says she was going to back to her car when she noticed a napkin stuffed into her vehicle's door handle. Without thinking much of it, she removed the trash before realizing something strange about the situation, The Daily Mail reports.
"When my husband got off the phone, I asked him, 'Did you put a napkin in my door?' and he was like 'no,'" she said. "I went inside, washed my hands, and maybe like two minutes later, my fingertips started tingling."
Mims says it was then that her symptoms became much worse. "After five minutes, my whole arm started tingling, then it starts to feel numb, I got lightheaded, I felt like I couldn't breathe, [and] it got hot. It was just a whole bunch of different feelings at one time. I started to panic," she told The Daily Mail.
After her husband called 911, Mims was rushed to the hospital, where doctors tried to determine what was causing the sudden health issue. "I was there for about six and a half hours," Mims explained. "The doctor said I had acute poisoning from an unknown substance. I didn't have enough of it in my system to determine what it was, but just that little amount had me messed up. So just imagine if I would've wrapped it with my whole hand, I probably could've been dead."
Police say this is the first incident of its kind in the area involving a car door and a napkin.
Fortunately, Mims was able to make a full recovery even though the medical team that treated her is struggling with questions about what could've possibly happened. However, her doctor speculates that the napkin incident could've been an attempted kidnapping targeting her car, The New York Post reports.
According to the Houston Police Department, the public hasn't reported any other similar incidents involving a car and a napkin or trash. But they did confirm that Mims' experience and symptoms lined up with other poisonings.
"The probability is that you would have to have a lot more than just a casual exposure," Mark Winter, managing director of the Southeast Houston Poison Center, told The Post. "In her video, her symptoms match hundreds of different poisons. It is possible. I've learned over my 40 years, that anything is possible when it comes to the human body."
Houston authorities confirmed they are investigating the incident as a possible assault and are asking anyone with information to contact them immediately, local NBC affiliate KPRC 2 reports. In addition, they're urging anyone who feels like they've been exposed to a poisonous substance to "seek emergency medical treatment or call 911 immediately, especially if they are having difficulty breathing, are restless, drowsy, or experiencing seizures."