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Creepy Stalker Van

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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?
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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.

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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 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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Examples:

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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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:
    I'M THE ONE YOUR MOTHER WARNED YOU ABOUT.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Music 
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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 old-fashioned vans, which he has used for probably-illegal activities.
  • 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."

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