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Flashing Headlights Gang Initiation Rite

There are numerous variations of this one floating around, but they all sound something like this:

This warning was sent to us at school from the police department.  "If you are ever driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights on, DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT THEM! This is a common gang member initiation 'game' that has come from Southern California, and goes like this:

The new member being initiated drives along with no headlights on and the first car to flash their headlights at the gang initiate is now their target. The gang initiate is now required to chase and shoot at or into the car to complete their initiation requirements."

I actually heard a woman in the Citizen Police Academy class that I am taking ask the lecturing officer about this story last week (January 1999). Another version has come through my mailbox recently (March 1999) claiming to originate (indirectly) from D.A.R.E. officers or from the local police or sheriff. Maybe someone from the local police/sheriff/D.A.R.E did pass it on, but try to find that person and get them to cite their sources -- you will always hit a dead end.

It appears that this hoax may actually have been originally disseminated by the Shelby County (Tennessee) Sheriff's Department back in 1993 based on an unconfirmed street rumor (according to the Memphis Flyer at, making this a particularly determined little meme, as it has some built-in authority.

Anyway, this is a piece of fiction -- an urban myth. This are a substantial number of authoritative web sites that confirm this. Here's a partial list:

The Memphis Flyer

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Page created1/21/99 by Michael Heggen.
Last updated 03/17/03 at 14:37.

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