FLINT TWP. — Flint Township police have ruled out any connection between a recent incident at Genesee Valley Center mall and widely publicized stories about shirts being left on windshields by human traffickers, intended to lure victims out of their cars.
According to a police report, on Feb. 16 at approximately 9:30 pm, an employee of the Genesee Valley Center approached her vehicle after work and found a blue flannel shirt on her windshield.
This made her feel uneasy so she drove out of the parking space before removing the shirt, then discarded it in the parking lot. She also took a photograph of the shirt prior to discarding it and uploaded it to social media.
This post was shared on social media over 100,000 times and led to numerous media reports that this was a tactic being used by criminals to lure victims for purposes of human trafficking. Once the Flint Township Police Department learned of this incident, contact was made with the woman. During subsequent investigation and with the assistance of the Genesee Valley Center, a vehicle description was obtained. Two males were later identified and interviewed. They admitted to putting the shirt on the vehicle as a random prank. Also, interior video surveillance at the Genesee Valley Center corroborated their presence at the mall.
These males said they had no prior knowledge that putting an item on a vehicle could be construed as a human trafficking tactic. Further, the vehicle and the two males left the parking lot over one hour prior to the woman approaching her vehicle after work. The males have offered their apologies to the woman that their actions frightened her hat night. Also, the woman has requested privacy and has asked that she not be contacted by any media outlet regarding this matter.
Detroit newspapers and other online reports identified her as Ashley Hardacre of Davison. Her Facebook account of the incident and a photo she posted of the shirt on her windshield have since been removed.