By Mike Pomranz
Updated August 31, 2015
Credit: © Alan Thornton / Getty Images

It was either a joke or the dumbest criminal to ever hit northern California (which would really be saying something). Residents in the Natomas area of Sacramento were freaking out last week after multiple sightings of a white van with “FREE CANDY” painted on the side in big red lettering. Turns out the van was just making a pit stop on its way to Burning Man. Go figure.

“It looked too fake to be true, but I didn’t want to get a closer look for sure,” 12-year-old Lawrence Bellow told CBS Sacramento. He had taken photos of the van as it was parked outside his house. Beyond sporting its clichéd “free candy” messaging, the windowless all-white van also featured a number of creepy red handprints.

To the relief of locals, it turned out a friend of one of Bellow’s neighbors, Sierra Deblonk, owned the van. “It was a joke,” she said, stating that the family friend had just stopped by their house on his way to this year’s Burning Man hippie fest in Nevada.

Burning Man, huh? Even if the owner wasn’t using the van to lure children, he’s probably lucky police didn’t decide to investigate. They might have found something far more illegal than free candy inside.