Cops: E-mail warning about gang initiation is a hoax

Debra Friedman (Greenwich Time) | October 29, 2010

Police are urging residents to disregard the contents of a forwarded e-mail detailing warnings about gang initiations that has gone viral across the state and perhaps beyond.

The e-mail, which was initially sent out a month ago, contains a warning from an unidentified person reporting how they saw an infant car seat with a blanket draped over it in the street, became concerned and called their local police department. The writer states that police relayed that the technique is used by gang members to lure victims out of their cars so they can beat them, rape them and “leave for dead,” according to the e-mail.

The e-mail, which has the name of a Greenwich police officer attached to it, also warns recipients not to stop if their windshield gets egged because it could also be gang members trying to get them to stop.

Greenwich police on Friday said the e-mail is a hoax and was not properly investigated before it was distributed to the public. No criminal activity included in the e-mail has been reported in the area, police said.

Greenwich police Captain Timothy Berry on Friday said the e-mail was sent to two members of their Community Impact Section last month who then forwarded it on to their Community and Police Partnership (CAPP) group members. CAPP is an organization of residents who meet regularly with police to discuss local safety issues.

Berry said the Community Impact officers did not thoroughly read the e-mail and looked into it before sending out the information. The officers often forward safety tips and e-mails to the group, he said.

“It went viral through someone in the CAPP group,” said Berry, discussing how the department has been bombarded with calls about the e-mail ever since. “The chief got thirty or forty calls and I am getting e-mails.”

The e-mail has reached people far outside of the community as well, police said. After doing some research, police said they determined the e-mail likely came from some sort of urban myth website and was disseminated as if it was factual information.

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