Fact check: Story about man arrested for putting fake arrows on Ikea floor began as satire

McKenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY
·3 min read

The claim: A man was arrested for putting down fake social distancing arrows at Ikea

A viral post circulating on Facebook claims that a man was arrested for putting down fake social-distancing arrows in Ikea stores and creating a labyrinth with no exit.

The Feb. 10 Facebook post, which has over 3,400 reactions and 550 shares, appears as a meme and was posted to the Facebook page Science Humor.

Other users recently shared a July 21 article from Today's Five headlined, "Man Arrested For Putting Fake Arrows On Floor Of Ikea And Creating A Labyrinth With No Exit."

The article claims that the arrested man was named Sylvester Schwartz, 33, and cites the Chicago Police Department. Schwartz purportedly told officers that it was a prank, but the article alleges he was arrested anyway and is now facing charges of harassment and false imprisonment.

USA TODAY reached out the Facebook users and Today's Five for comment.

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Story originated on satirical site

A search for "Sylvester Schwartz" in Chicago Police arrest records resulted in no matches, and Sgt. Rocco Alioto, a Chicago Police spokesman, told USA TODAY that there is no Ikea located within Chicago's geographic limits.

There are no other existing news reports about a 33-year-old man being arrested at an Ikea in Chicago in July.

The earliest version of the Ikea story appears in an October 2018 article by ThereIsNews.com. The story claims the event took place at an Ikea in Atlanta and police received dozens of calls from customers reporting that they were locked inside the store.

A disclaimer on ThereIsNews.com states that it is a humor site whose purpose is entertainment and that its content "is fiction and does not correspond to reality."

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"All references, names, brands or institutions that appear on the site are used as contextual elements, as in any novel or fiction account," the warning reads. A bold headline on top of the website also states, "Not real, but so funny."

From there, the story was turned into a meme and shared to Reddit forums, Twitter and satirical websites.

The posts appear to be poking fun at Ikea for its large warehouse and customers getting lost in the maze of all the showrooms.

The circular design and one-way layout of the store is designed so that customers can't see what is coming next and fear that they will miss something that they need, according to The Conversation. Because of the difficulty of revisiting a certain item later in the shopping trip, customers are inclined to pick it up and put it in their cart.

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Our rating: Satire

The claim that a man was arrested for putting down fake social-distancing arrows in IKEA and creating a labyrinth with no exit is rated SATIRE. The story originated on a satirical website and the posts are making a joke out of Ikea's store layout.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Viral Ikea story about social-distancing arrows is satire