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Creepy Stalker Van

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With a van like that, I'm sure he's great with kids.

Needy: They took her in their spooky van with the windows all blacked out.
Chip: Did you get the model?
Needy: I don't know, Chip! An '89 Rapist?

In fiction, unmarked, usually all-white vans are the go-to tool for kidnappers and sexual predators. They're large enough to store a body and generic enough that they can be easily dumped. When asked why they have such a large van, they can have various alibis, such as it being work-related. Vans are also cheap and easy to customize, soundproof, and otherwise secure. While they've become commonly associated with the stranger in the park luring kids with candy, they're also pretty popular among Serial Killers and run-of-the-mill stalkers, thanks to having the extra cargo capacity you need for Vehicular Kidnapping. Even if the driver never kidnaps anyone, watching someone from a van is always creepy, except on those occasions when the Spies In a Van happen to be the good guys.

Not all of these vans are necessarily unmarked, however. Ice-cream trucks are often used for this purpose. You may see a creepy-looking older man trying to rent an ice-cream truck "for some private reasons". Sometimes they even actually are an official ice-cream man who uses their job as a way to get close to kids. Campers or caravans are also not uncommon as a vehicle of choice.

As a result of this trope, characters who have generic-looking vans and caravans often have jokes where they're Mistaken for Pedophile.

Super-Trope to Bad Humor Truck (for ice cream trucks specifically). Compare Sinister Car and Van in Black, for when the van is merely suspicious. Can overlap with Vehicular Kidnapping, though the latter is often played for suspense rather than horror. Or, if the kidnapper has a car instead of a van, see Punk in the Trunk.


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  • Subverted in Julie Knew Her Killer. A creepy white van tailgates Julie for the majority of the ad, but near the end is revealed to be innocent when the driver turns into a different road. The killer? Julie's teenage son, who was unbuckled in the back seat, and flew forwards when Julie crashed into a parked car, crushing her to death.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Parodied twice in Empathy. When the group asks Riley, and at a later point Tip, to get in Wasabi's van, the girl in question makes a joke about how it looks like they're being kidnapped. Both times, Wasabi is aggravated by the joke.
  • In the Turning Red fanfic The Great Red Panda Rescue, Mei is kidnapped and placed in a white van with a tinted window.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Team GO Rocket's official vehicle is a black, windowless van. It's so Obviously Evil that Spark points out that they're probably just making themselves more conspicuous.
  • In How to Break a Family, 4-year old D.W. was lured into an unmarked van by a stranger using sweets. She was kidnapped and remained missing for over a decade.
  • In the Jem fic Our Time Is Now, Jerrica is kidnapped and placed in an unmarked black van.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cabin by the Lake: The serial killer Stanley drives around in a large van to kidnap female victims, using an looping audio tape to pretend he's transporting dogs. On the inside of the van, there's a taunting message plastered on the walls:
  • In The House That Jack Built the titular Villain Protagonist, true to his trade as a Serial Killer, drives around in a red, windowless van. Lampshaded by his first victim who notes that his van is the kind one might expect to be kidnapped in or for a killer to use to transport corpses.
  • Lampshaded in Jennifer's Body. When Needy is telling Chip about devil-worshiping Emo band Low Shoulder taking Jennifer away in a van, he asks what make and model. Her response ("I don't know, Chip! An '89 Rapist?") is the page quote.
  • The two villains from Nick of Time kidnap Gene Watson's young daughter, and issue him an ultimatum: assassinate Governor Grant, or little Lynn dies. The villains keep poor Lynn in an unmarked van near the site of the Governor's campaign speech.
  • No Hard Feelings: Maddie borrows Jim's windowless van to pick up Percy on their supposed first date. Jim apparently does odd jobs here and there so all his tools are in the back, including a machete.
  • Power Rangers (2017) gives us this exchange when Jason and Kimberly are daydreaming about leaving town together, and Jason mentions he has access to a van.
    Kimberly: That's creepy.
    Jason: It's not that kind of van.
    Kimberly: Every van is that kind of van.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Serial killer Buffalo Bill lures a victim by wearing a cast and pretending to struggle loading furniture into a van outside her apartment. When she gives him a hand in the back of the van, he assaults her, shuts the doors and drives off.

  • Vampirocracy: One of the few leads they have on the vampire killer is an unmarked white van stolen from a depot in Mahtomedi. The killer is using it because it's nondescript, easy to blend in, and has room for all the assorted supplies one needs to hunt and kill the modern vampire.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alluded to on The Big Bang Theory when the guys decide to start their own comic book shop. One of the guys says that when he was growing up, he couldn't get to the local comic book shop and suggests they get a van to pick up local kids and bring them there. Only Leonard realizes the implications.
    Leonard: Are we going to lure them in with candy?
    Raj: [excitedly] We are now!
  • Criminal Minds has had a few, including a plot arc where Kate's niece Meg is abducted in an SUV, and the seriously creepy camper occupied by "Prince of Darkness" Billy Flynn.
  • An amusing variation in the TV movie "Dream Date". Already not keen on his daughter having her first date, her father flips out upon seeing that the boy is driving a van. Thanks to what a coworker told him about how his van had the back set up as a love nest, he's thoroughly convinced that this is the kid's intention.
  • Forever: After Molly kisses Henry in front of the police station in "The Ecstasy of Agony", her stalker pulls up next to Henry in a brown van with no plates and subdues him with a cattle prod before stuffing him in the back of the van and driving away.
  • On Full House, like the "Dream Date " example, Danny, Jesse, and Joey become convinced that DJ's date has nefarious intentions once they see that he has a van and once they learn of his reputation as the school Romeo.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In order to conduct a spying operation, Frank purchases a van with the intention of it being a Van in Black for a Spies In a Van intelligence-gathering mission. However, it's constantly referred to as "the rape van" and when it's "borrowed" for a door-to-door gasoline sales scheme, Charlie's awkward accidental double entendres lead potential clients to think he's threatening to grab them and rape them in the van.
  • A number of the antagonists on Millennium (1996) lure victims to or otherwise use this kind of van. By the Season 2 episode "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me" it's subject to being parodied, as in the demon Blurk who tries to get a potential serial killer to accept his destiny:
    Blurk: Inability to hold a steady job or relationship with women. Spending all your free time dreaming about turning your masochistic/mutilation/sex fantasies into reality! To say nothing of the fact that you drive a van, and keep a roll of duct tape in your glove compartment! (opens glove compartment to reveal a roll of duct tape)
    Perry: How the hell did..? What are you trying to tell me?
    Blurk: Play the hand you've been dealt.
  • In the second season premiere of NCIS, Team Gibbs must rescue a blind child. When they find her, she remarks that she was in a vehicle with no windows, since she couldn't feel the sun on her face. After looking at security tapes, DiNozzo says they found a white van with no windows and that the plates came back as stolen.
  • Parodied in New Girl. Nick complains that in Jess's life, everything works out wonderfully. We flashback to Jess as a girl, walking down the street when a sketchy van pulls and a guy asks if she wants some candy. He opens the van door to reveal his grandmother, who made too much candy at home and is now just giving it away.
  • In an early episode of Parks and Recreation, Leslie and Tom spend the night in a van to stake out a community garden because Leslie found out that someone had been planting marijuana in there. But when Andy comes by, Leslie takes him to get something to eat, and Tom accidentally locks himself out. When he tries to break in, he's seen by Ann and Mark returning from their date, and they call the police on him. The police note that even aside from his breaking in, the fact that it's a windowless van containing cameras (to capture the pot-planter) and candy necklaces (Leslie is a sugar junkie) makes him look very suspicious.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Another Mother", the killers in the episode drive around Scottsdale, Arizona looking for a child to abduct, which they do later on to the leapee's teenage son.
  • Supernatural: In season 14, the man who used to serve as the host body for the Devil becomes obsessed with tracking down the demon responsible for murdering his family, killing many innocents in the process. He starts to drive around in a large suspicious van to kidnap and kill people in.
  • In Syndrome E a French NGO company uses a white van marked with an eye symbol to distribute food and medicine in the slums of Morrocco, and kidnap the occasional street kid for their Mad Science experiments.

  • The video for Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" focuses on missing youths. During the second verse, a teen prostitute is picked up by a creepy-looking old man in his car. A bit later, she's shown being thrown into the back of a van by several men, one of whom gets in with her, pulling his shirt off as he does. She's then shown being loaded into an ambulance with blood on her face.

  • Referenced in The Ricky Gervais Show when Karl mentions getting a mattress from the back of his uncle's van, leading Stephen to wonder if he's a serial killer. Ricky's surprised that it didn't come with a dead hooker.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 4, it eventually becomes apparent that the serial kidnapper had to have been using a large vehicle, because it'd be the only way to transport a TV large enough to throw people into without arousing suspicion. (TVs become portals to the Eldritch Location for people with the power to access it) The kidnapper turns out to be a deliveryman, who was able to drive around town, park his truck in front of the victims' houses, and have the victims answer the door for him, all without seeming suspicious, as that's just what delivery workers normally do. This is so effective it even works from an out-of-game standpoint: his delivery truck can be clearly seen in several earlier story scenes, including when the victims were kidnapped and at the gas station at the very beginning of the game, and the player likely never thought it out-of-place at the time.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the 2006 Halloween fan costumes review, Strong Bad describes a fan dressed as Senor Cardgage as looking like he goes around in an unmarked white van giving out "half-melted candy bars" to kids, which is implied to be something the "real" Senor Cardgage did. "What an un-creepy Samaritan!"
    • In "Happy Dethemberween", instead of flying around in a sleigh like Santa Claus, the Decemberween Thnikkaman is described as "flying through the night in an unmarked van".
    • In "Marzipan's Answering Machine 17.2", Bubs announces he's selling more "organic" merchandise at the concession stand... as in stuff related to Organ Theft, including "fifteen pass Econoline vans pre-lined with plastic sheeting."
  • TheOdd1sOut: Parodied in "Strangers Trying to Sell You Stuff". A stereotypical creeper in a white van pulls up to some kids and offers them some candy. James then steps out of the van and tells the kids they should never take candy offered to them by strangers because too much candy is bad for their teeth.

  • The men who tried to kidnap Max in the "How Do I" arc of Ennui GO! were driving a black van with black paper taped over the windows and "Free Candy" spray painted on the side (he wasn't stupid enough to get in, they physically dragged him).

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Archer, Dr. Krieger has owned a number of vans, which he has used for his various illegal and often also disgusting activities. Unlike most creepy vans, the doctor's vans are highly distinct, decorated with Rush album art altered to be about him.
    Malory: I swear, if anyone saw me in this awful van...!
    Lana: How could they with this illegal-ass window tint? Dude, this van's like rolling probable cause.
    Malory: So all ashore from the S.S. Date Rape!
  • Played With and overlapping with Spies In a Van in the Western Animation series of The Littles, Dr. Hunter (a Canon Foreigner Agent Mulder recurring foe that constantly tries to expose the existence of the Littles) and his assistant Petersen constantly drive around in a black van full of high-tech Little-detecting gear, and several times the heroes notice that the van is rolling or parked nearby and go Oh, Crap!.
  • Milo Murphy's Law features this. Everyone has been replaced by aliens except for the main trio. They run into the members of Zach's former band who try to entice them into entering a windowless van in order to replace them as well. When the trio declines, they proceed to chase them in the van and constantly sing the words "windowless van."
    Real Life 
  • William Bonin, aka the Freeway Killer, drove around in one of these with a variety of accomplices to abduct, assault, and ultimately murder 21 young men between May 1979—June 1980.note  Aside from being full of torture devices, the door handles were removed to prevent victims from escaping.
  • Although a light-colored VW bug was usually his vehicle of choice, Ted Bundy was driving one of these when he abducted Kimberly Leach, his final victim.


Rolling Probable Cause

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