The New Scourge of the Suburbs: Drive-By Vehicle Wrapping
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Press release from the issuing company
Even three weeks after the incident, Scott Arendt remains traumatized.
"I was stopped at a traffic light outside Albany [Ga.]," he explains. "It's not a busy intersection, but it's a very long light, so I took the opportunity to send a few texts, update my Facebook status, tweet about the NCAA championship games, and write some blog posts. So I guess I wasn't entirely paying attention to what was going on..."
It wasn't until he arrived home that he realized what had happened. "I noticed that my car—from hood to trunk—had been completely covered with an ad for a real estate agent." He says his dreams are still haunted by realtor Tony Pallazzo's fake smile and gleaming scalp. "It was awful, especially the taunting. Until I could get my car de-wrapped, I'd be stopped at traffic lights and these guys in the lane next to me would be all like, "Yo, fix me up with a duplex, bro!' It was terrible."
Arendt is not alone. His is the 27th recorded incident of drive-by vehicle wrapping nationwide in the last three months alone. The M.O. (modus operandi, which is Latin for "the way someone does stuff when you're not looking") usually runs something like this: the victim is stopped at a stop sign, traffic light, or even traffic jam, and a vicious gang of vehicle-wrap installers will pull up and, in record time, apply high-quality, high-resolution vinyl graphics. They manage to complete their nefarious work before the victim even knows what's happening.
"These guys are good," remarks Roland H.P. Mimaki, special agent for the FBI who has been heading up the investigation of cases of drive-by vehicle wrapping. "They can take the victim's vehicle's measurements, output the graphics on the fly, and apply them to the vehicle in less than three minutes. No air bubbles or anything. I'm, like, in complete awe of these guys. I mean, I'd love to be able to do what these guys— No, no, that would be fundamentally wrong, wouldn't it?"
Dennis Overbye, Toluca Lake, Calif., had an incident similar to Arendt's, only Overbye's car was wrapped with promotional graphics for a local auto insurance agency. "Ironically, my own insurance wouldn't cover its removal," he says.
Given the geographical distances between all of the cases, special agent Mimaki has concluded that it was not a single gang but a perhaps loose affiliation or federation of gangs. "We've questioned winners of the FESPA Wrap Cup Masters but they all have air-tight alibis."
A church's school bus was recently wrapped when waiting for one of its congregants. One of the wrappers was waiting in a tree that was over the bus. "It was a set-up. The congregant was in on it and took their sweet time. If only they used their skills for good and not evil, the world would be a better place."
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