Baby stroller may have been used as bait for carjacking

FRESNO, Calif.

It's a scenario that sounds a lot like an urban legend from a few years ago, but this time, there's a real victim right here in the Valley. It happened on the Herndon frontage road near Harrison in Northwest Fresno.

The unusual crime attempt happened on a street darkened by copper wire theft last weekend. The woman tells Action News she almost became a victim because she thought there might be a baby in the middle of the road. Now, her story has gone viral.

Facebook pages, e-mail chains, and chat rooms are buzzing with a warning about crooks planting an empty baby stroller in the middle of an isolated frontage road in Northwest Fresno.

The story is very similar to another one that went viral in 2009 -- a story proved false by websites dedicated to investigating urban legends, like snopes.com. But this time around, Action News tracked down the Fresno woman who sent the original e-mail. She's too scared of the suspects to show her face, and she only wanted us to identify her as Judy, but she wanted to share the story of what happened when she spotted the stroller.

"It's instinct," she said. "You can't help but stop when you see a baby carriage at 8 o'clock at night in the middle of the road. I stopped. I looked at it and at that moment, I saw some movement to the right of my car and there were three men coming towards my car."

Judy's husband had just passed the stroller and he started honking when he saw her slow down, so she took off and called 911.

Fresno police say they received four calls about a hazard in the road and found a stroller filled with garbage. They didn't see any suspects lurking in the area.

Investigators say a family living nearby said their daughters often played with the stroller and left it outside.

Judy says she sent out an e-mail to about 50 people Wednesday. By Friday, thousands of people had read about her story. That's a lot more attention than she wanted, but she's glad her message is out there.

"I just want to get the word out for everyone," she said. "Just be aware of your surroundings. We become complacent at times."

Judy said she's gotten dozens of phone calls from people she knows -- and even some she doesn't -- to make sure she's okay. She got away unharmed and police have no reports of anyone actually getting carjacked.

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