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District motorists have learned to flinch at the sight of pink paper on their car windshields—announcing, from halfway up the block, that you’ve got a parking ticket. Now police in Tenleytown and the surrounding neighborhoods have begun to exploit this collective Pavlovian conditioning for educational purposes: With auto break-ins on the rise, officers from PSA 202 are going car-to-car and leaving pink leaflets under the wipers, warning residents not to leave valuables unattended. Besides their color, the missives mimic the rectangular shape and glossy finish of D.C.’s parking-violation slips. The design is intentionally misleading and disturbing, says police Lt. Mark Carter. “Usually when you put a flier on people’s cars, they don’t pay attention,” Carter says. “The momentary anxiety of thinking they have received a ticket means they’ll get the message. That’s better than the lasting anxiety of having your stuff stolen.” —Felix Gillette