If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably is a duck. But if it looks like a rose and smells like a rose, it could be sex trafficking.
That was the conclusion reached by police officers contacted by a manager at the Walmart in Coshocton, Ohio, who saw some people putting roses on the windshields of cars in the store’s parking lot. The manager called the cops and soon an investigation was underway, according to local news.
“Was this something heinous or was it something of a lesser nature, was it completely harmless?” Deputy Chris Johnson asked.
Sex trafficking on the brain
A bunch of Walmart shoppers thought heinous. Soon so many calls were flooding in that Johnson took the bull by the long-stems and issued a warning:
On 2/15/2021 the Sheriff’s Office received a call from the Walmart Security Department in regards to suspicious activity in their parking lot involving a vehicle and two, what appear to be, males looking into vehicles and placing a single red rose under the windshield wipers of those vehicles. While reviewing the Walmart Surveillance Cameras, the two unknown males are seen exiting from, what appears to be, a newer style dark gray Ford Explorer…and placing a single red rose on it. This same sequence occurs multiple times on several vehicles…
As if that wasn’t scary enough, Johnson raised the terrifying prospect of human sex trafficking:
Although there have been several Facebook posts of similar instances that have happened in Ohio regarding Human Trafficking related techniques, it is unclear at this time if this incident is related to such type of crime.
Ah yes, the reliability of “several Facebook posts.”
The petal-pushing perps
Word of the thorn thugs spread so far so fast that a woman named Brittaney Strupe read about the panic in her newsfeed—and picked up the phone.
Note, please, the day of the scary incident: February 15. Hmm. Roses… February 15… Sounds kinda crazy but: Could there possibly be some connection?
Strupe told the police that on Valentine’s Day, a holiday in some parts, her fiancé had given her $300 worth of roses. The next day, as they started to wilt, she didn’t want to throw them out. So she decided to give them away instead.
Strupe and her sister and daughter headed over to where they knew they’d find a lot of cars and put one rose on each windshield.
When Johnson heard the explanation, “It was a relief, and it was nice to put out that update letting the community know that it had been solved.”
In that post to the pollen-petrified people of Coshocton, he explained the guerilla gifters, “never meant to alarm anyone or cause panic in our community.”
And then, as if to undermine the idea that sometimes even sex traffickers take a day off, he added that it is still very important for everyone to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings and follow their gut if they ever see anything suspicious.
Like a random act of kindness.
Roses painting by Carmela Kolman