Have you seen a "W" written on the driver's side windows on vehicles around town? We've received some information about what it could mean.

There's a viral post on social media right now warning people that seeing a "W" written on the driver's side window is a symbol of human trafficking.

Everyone please check your vehicle this was on mine and a coworker’s at work in Lafayette. Adding New Iberia also. A friend of mine had one there. The “W” is a mark for trafficking. Watch your surroundings

Posted by Jessica Prince on Monday, April 19, 2021


Is there any truth to the rumor that a "W" on a car or truck is a symbol to alert human traffickers of potential victims?

At this point, we haven't found any validated information from local law enforcement or any national agencies to substantiate these claims, but that certainly doesn't mean it's baseless. Safety is paramount, and staying vigilant and aware is a priority.

Here in Acadiana, there's also another explanation as to why the "W" is showing up on vehicle windows.

We spoke directly with a Lafayette man who called us out of public concern after seeing the viral social media post. We've made the decision for him to remain anonymous to avoid causing him any issues because, well you know how the internet works. He actually told us we could use his name saying "I have nothing to hide".

It's also important to note this man's credibility. He actually contacted a retired Lafayette Sheriff's Office employee we know to find out how to contact us directly and quickly. The retired Lafayette Sheriff's Office employee is also married to a retired Lafayette Sheriff Deputy. He's been close with this family for many, many years.

The man says his company works with 14 car dealerships around Acadiana, providing detailing and other maintenance services to new and pre-owned inventory on the lots. After he or someone from his company finishes a vehicle, they mark it with a "W" on the driver's side window. By marking it this way, they can quickly tell which cars are new on the lot and need to be inspected and serviced.

Every Sunday for the past 15 years, he and his crew visit client dealerships looking for the new inventory to line up the upcoming week's work.

Some of the "W" on people's vehicles seen around Acadiana could actually have been put there by his company.

He tells us if you start looking, you'll also see the letters "P" and "C" on vehicle windows as well. Those letters represent other auto detailing and service companies in Acadiana.

The company writes the "W" on the windows using a syringe with paint. The paint is not permanent and is designed to eventually come off on its own. However, if a vehicle is purchased shortly after his company details it then the "W" will still be on the window. In many cases, people may not even notice the small "W" for weeks, even months after buying the vehicle.

One suggestion he offers to anyone who may have concerns is to visit a few local auto dealerships, walk around the lots, and look for the letters "W", "P", and "C" written on the driver's side back window.

If you have somewhat recently purchased a vehicle from a dealership, new or pre-owned, and you notice the "W" marking and have concerns, please contact the dealership you purchased it from and they can provide you with information as to whether the marking originated from their lot.

This being said, if you've owned your vehicle for quite some time and haven't recently brought it to a dealership for any type of services and you notice something like this, then it could definitely be cause for concern.

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