When Nicole O'Kelly and her family went to the monster truck show known as Monster Jam, WFLA reports that she didn't think twice about the pink toy truck her 2-year-old daughter kept as a souvenir.
When O'Kelly's older daughter took a closer look at the toy, however, she recognized one symbol in particular from, oddly enough, an episode of "Law & Order: SVU" that she had seen recently.
As O'Kelly would soon discover, the "hearts within hearts" symbol isn't something just seen on TV, but sends a disturbing message in the real world, too — it's a secret code used by pedophiles.
As an FBI intelligence document reveals, this unsettling secret language is used by pedophiles to recognize and communicate with one another, and are used online in addition to being printed onto objects like rings, coins, and pendants.
The FBI reports that a butterfly symbol is used by "non-preferential gender child abusers'':
A triangle within a triangle represents pedophiles seeking underage males:
And the hearts within hearts symbol specifically indicates an adult seeking an underage female:
When O'Kelly learned about the symbol's meaning, she was incensed:
“I’m absolutely sick. I bought this for my 2-year-old little girl. This toy was made for little girls. I wanted answers."
The mom immediately informed local police and the toy's manufacturer, Feld Inc., about what she had discovered, prompting the company to pull the toy.
A spokesperson for Feld Inc., Stephen Payne, released a statement explaining that the company had "no idea" of the symbol's covert meaning:
"We wanted to do the right thing as quickly as possible. Clearly we’re in the business with providing high quality family entertainment.
This was really obscure. Until yesterday, I had no idea there was an underlying meaning of these symbols and the deplorable behavior."
Payne added that it's not clear if any laws were broken by including the symbol on the toy, but they have not yet been contacted by any law enforcement agencies.
The company says the toy's designer no longer works at Feld, and they'll be taking a closer look at every toy he had a hand in making.