How To Protect Your Children From The Human Traffickers And Sexual Perverts That Are Lurking At Your Favorite Retail Stores

We live in a society where human traffickers and sexual perverts seem to be multiplying.  It has been reported that there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the United States, but the latest figure we have is now about five years old, so that total is almost certainly significantly higher today.  It has also been reported that there are 1.5 million victims of human trafficking in the United States, and most of those are female.  In every community in the country, there are vicious predators that are always on the hunt for new victims.  Of course we could just ignore reality and pretend that “most people are good people”, but being careless would only put our children at risk.  After decades of feeding our minds with sick and twisted material, our society has literally become sick and twisted, and so it is important for parents to know how to protect their children in such an environment.

Yesterday, I shared the story of a mother that almost had her two-year-old daughter taken by a team of child abductors in Longview, Texas.

Today, I want to share with you the story of a mother of three children that encountered a team of predators while she was shopping in IKEA.  The following was posted on Facebook by Diandra Toyos on March 23rd

I wanted to share this again publicly in case any of you want to share with your mom friends… I’ve added some details and some things to be aware of that we have thought of since talking about the experience.

I recently read a post written by a mother I didn’t know, that went viral. She described an event that happened to her while she was at target. She and her children were targeted by human traffickers. She talked about how when she reported the incident after the fact, she was told that this was a very common way they worked.

I read things like that, and I always think “wow, that’s so scary… I need to be careful”. But I also always think “that could never happen to me.”

But you guys, it did.

A few days ago, my mom and I took the kids (I have 3 kids. A daughter who is 4, and two sons, 1.5 years and 7 weeks) to IKEA. We enjoy going and it’s always nice to get the kids out of the house! We went specifically to look at couches. We were in the couch section and the kids were enjoying climbing on each couch and trying them out. My daughter was trying to convince us which couch we should get. My older son was happily walking from couch to couch, flopping himself on each one. My baby boy was snuggled into the sling, sound asleep. After a few minutes, I noticed a well dressed, middle aged man circling the area, getting closer to me and the kids. At one point he came right up to me and the boys, and instinctively I put myself between he and my mobile son. I had a bad feeling. He continued to circle the area, staring at the kids. He occasionally picked something up, pretending to look at it but looking right over at us instead. My mom noticed as well and mentioned that we needed to keep an eye on him. We moved on… and so did he. Closely. My son wandered into one of the little display rooms across from the couches and I followed him closely with my baby strapped to me. My mom said she watched as the older man dropped what he was doing and quickly and closely followed us into the area. At the same time, she noticed another man dressed more casually and in his 20s. He wasn’t looking at us, but was walking the same circling pattern around us as the first man. My mom and I decided to sit down and wait for them to move on. We had a gut feeling something was going on, but we hoped we were wrong and they would move on. So we sat in one of the little display rooms. For close to 30 minutes. And they sat too. They sat down on one of the couches on the display floor that faced us. That was when we knew our gut feeling was right and something was off. They sat the whole time we sat, and stood up right as we got up. We continued on and my mom turned around and realized the two men had moved and were sitting only one couch away from each other, still facing our direction. The older man was still watching us. She made eye contact… very clearly letting them know that we saw them. And we moved on. We managed to lose them at that point. (We talked with an employee, circled back and used the bathroom and went out into a different section). But still kept the kids right with us the whole time. I kept the baby in the sling which kept my hands free and my eyes too. I didn’t have to keep an eye on the stroller AND two kids… I just had to watch my older ones. When we got through the maze of IKEA, we reported what happened to security.

After talking through the experience, there are some things I want to point out.

These men weren’t shopping. While they walked around the store, they weren’t looking at things… not really. The older man would occasionally pick something up and act like he was looking at it, but he’d look right over the top of it at my kids. Then he’d drop it and move on as soon as we did.

They weren’t waiting for anyone. Often you see men in a place like IKEA waiting for their wives, but these guys appeared to be alone. They didn’t even talk to each other. They didn’t talk to anyone. They didn’t smile casually at people (in fact, early on, I looked at the older guy when he got close to us and smiled… which is something I do regularly when I’m out.. I’m always making eye contact with people. He instantly looked away. That was odd to me).

They were dressed nicely but very differently. I would never have put these two together. And they didn’t appear to be together.

The area they were hanging around had an exit right by it. IKEA is a massive confusing maze of a store. But they could have run out that exit with my child and handed them off to someone waiting outside and been gone before I could find them.

Something was off. We knew it in our gut. I am almost sure that we were the targets of human trafficking. This is happening all over. Including the United States. It’s in our backyards. I’m reading more and more about these experiences and it’s terrifying. If not that, something else shady was obviously going on. Either way, as parents, we NEED to be aware.

Please PLEASE be aware when you’re out with your children. It’s not the time to be texting or facebooking or chatting on the phone. When you’re in a public place with your kids, please be aware and present so that you don’t become a victim. Had I not been paying attention that day… or had I let my kids roam and play while I checked my phone… I may have lost one. The thought just makes me completely ill. (Especially because I’ve been guilty of this!)

Also, in hindsight, I would have taken a picture of the guys. Probably right in their faces so they saw me do it.

Trust your gut. It’s there for a reason.

What Diandra has shared is very wise.  As a parent, you have got to trust your instincts.  Personally, I know that my own instincts have gotten me out of a number of very bad situations over the years.  If someone or something sets off alarm bells in your head, don’t hesitate to take action.

In the old days, parents would often let their children roam around a store while they were shopping.  But you simply cannot do that in this day and age.  While shopping you should always have your children immediately around you, and for toddlers many parents find a safety harness to be a useful tool.

In addition, some parents dress their children in bright colors when they go out in public so that they are easier to identify.

If you do get separated from a child, having a recent digital photo on your phone is very helpful.  That way store staff members and law enforcement personnel can be shown exactly who they should be looking for.

Once your children are old enough to understand, you will want to talk to them about stranger safety.  If your children know how to handle situations in advance that will greatly help if something does arise.

Predators often like to target children when they go into bathrooms, so it is crucial to always accompany your child into public toilets.

Also, you do not ever want to leave a child unattended in a vehicle.  If someone is going to abduct your child, their goal is to get that child into their vehicle, and so parking lots are always particularly dangerous.

If you have become aware that an individual or a group of people are tracking you and your children while inside a store, don’t race outside to your vehicle because that is often exactly what they want.  What these predators don’t want is to have light shined on them, so staring back to let them know that you are on to them can sometimes be an effective defense.  Even better is to get out your phone or camera and take a picture of them.  And of course you should always contact store personnel and let them know what is going on.  In most cases, someone from the store will be more than happy to accompany you and your children to your vehicle once the threat has passed.

Whenever you go out, always arrange a meeting point for you and your children in case you get separated.

On your way home, if you feel like a vehicle is following you, don’t be afraid to take a detour from your normal route in order to try to shake them.  Something as simple as turning into a gas station to see if a vehicle will keep following you is often enough.  But if you are being followed, do not stop or get out of your vehicle because that is often exactly what they want.

In addition to the tips that I have just shared, the following are some tips about stranger safety that come from the Today Show that you can share with your children…

  1. Do not get into any car unless your parents personally tell you to do so. Also, stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car. You do not need and should not go near a car to talk to the people inside.
  2. Adults and other people who need help should not be asking a child for help; they should be asking other adults. Adults should not be asking you for directions or to look for a “lost puppy,” or telling you that your mother or father is in trouble and that they will take you to them.
  3. Quickly get away from anyone who tries to take you somewhere. Yell or scream, “This person is not my father (or mother).”
  4. You should use the “buddy system” and never go places alone. Always ask your parents’ permission to leave the yard/play area or to go over to someone’s home, and especially always ask permission before you go into someone’s home.
  5. Never, never hitchhike! Do not try to get a ride with people unless your parents have told you it’s OK to do so.
  6. People should not ask you to keep a special secret. If they do, tell your parents or teacher. Also, tell anyone who wants to take your picture, “No,” and quickly tell your parents or teacher.
  7. No one should touch you on the parts of the body covered by your bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.
  8. You can be assertive and you have the right to say “No” to someone, including adults and even relatives or friends who try to take you somewhere against your will, touch you or make you feel uncomfortable in ANY WAY.
  9. NOTE: Many parents use a special code word that only the child knows to convey a message should someone other than a parent ask a child to accompany them anywhere.
  10. THE YELL: Practice a “special” yell. It is low, loud and long. It tells the person trying to hurt the child, “I know what to do! I’m not an easy victim!” It tells everyone within the sound of the child’s voice, “I need help!” It gets the child going, it breaks the “spell.” A child should not panic and freeze, thereby becoming immobile in an emergency. When you yell you take a deep breath, thereby getting oxygen and energy to your brain and muscles. Your own yell can give you courage and get your feet moving when you need to run away!

America in 2017 is not like America was in 1950.

We live at a time when we all should be paying special attention to security.  Because even though everything might seem “normal” most of the time, it only takes a single bad encounter to suddenly change everything.

As our society continues to unravel, the number of predators is only going to continue to grow, and protecting our children is of the utmost importance.

6 thoughts on “How To Protect Your Children From The Human Traffickers And Sexual Perverts That Are Lurking At Your Favorite Retail Stores”

  1. why didn’t she call 911 and put an end to this.Or why doesn’t the security employees at these stores they should have a direct line of contact with police in their areas who would respond. I am a 67 year old who grew up in post WWII baby boom america. I do not directly or indirectly know of ONE person who has had a child snatched from them. I never hear news of this in metro NY it would be front page. Etan Patz anyone ? It is absurd to think that target and IKEA sees this type of thing “all the time” and does not have security circulating. More hype and hysteria from synder although children who are old enough to be out alone should be told how to handle themselves. Older kids disappear but i believe the larger majority are runaways. Limbaugh was on radio during election asking if ONE listener would call who knew of someone who had died under mysterious circumstances. He did not know anyone and he did not get one call This was in reference to questioning the string of highly suspicious deaths in the CLinton administrations all supposed to be coincidental. Point taken. More synder sensationalizing.

    • A call to 911 would NOT “put an end to this”. This is much larger than you realize. Twelve years ago I had a similar experience. A man approached my son in a department store and after displaying way too interest in him, he told my four yr old that he “would fit nicely inside that suitcase”. This was done in front of me! I have never exited a mall faster in my life. And do not assume that the older kids are runaways! As you travel further down the rabbit hole, you will find many things that far surpass sick & twisted. I only pray that those guilty of such heinous actions will one day soon be brought to justice.

      • it would put an end to that particular event. If this is this well known to store employees why is there not protocols in place to contact police very rapidly and apprehend these people ? I am not saying it does not happen but not to this extent. Etan patz is still front page news in NYC since 1979. I read stats on issues of runaways FBI and other agencies say this. Black pastor in DC published article yesterday about the disappearance of young teen girls. He said it is a phenom in black community of these poor children running away from hostile environment with single mother and grandmother households where anger and rage predominate. he knows this as a black church leader who confronts it all the time. How many people do u personally know whose child was snatched ? my point is an individual should refer to their own experience before falling into a panic about level of incidences. My kid saw a dodgy man when she was 13 in brooklyn i called Manhattan pediophile and was told there 50 files. If a kid disappears around here all along the atlantic corridor you get amber alerts on your cell I have seen ONE or two in past twenty years Young kids should not be out alone at all for a range of reasons If a 1.5 million kids in this country were abducted it would be news. I would be interested to see what the stats are compromised of if you have it readily available

        • After looking into this… I noticed in one of the comments on that thread that one lady actually called the police over a man who did the exact same thing to her. What happened? Nothing. Because the predator was doing nothing in violation of the law. What it comes down to is if the security inside these Kmarts, walmarts, targets, and Ikeas will start paying attention to what is happening. Most of these companies don’t have the staff to keep a watch on these things.

          • woman in original remarks said she was told by employees they see it “all the time”. i don’t think the customer should have to do this but rather since they all have security details some protocols should be in place and they should become proactive. If police show up and confront someone finding a “rap sheet” on them they can detain and question. if this happens with a degree of efficiency enough times it would create a deterrent. Hard to imagine people like this are unknown to police. My kid in tony brooklyn was out years ago realized she was being watched by a man in a car. I called Manhattan south pedophile unit detective talked to me for over a hour pointing out they had files on 50 men in my community alone. He seemed to have an idea who this person was and said they would go and “discuss” incident. they have methods but it would be best if the business took initiative. My point was and is that fewer than 300 a year of these occur which are found to be ‘stranger’ incidents according to various sources. now this is not acceptable and kids should be watched and supervised but it is not enough to create a climate of fear in kids. Again etan patz taken in ’79 in soho is still front page news. A random stranger abduction triggers quite the alert I have had TWO amber alerts in 20 years for missing children on cell and even tv transmissions. disturbing to say the least but most are due to family issues

  2. I too had a circumstance with my 2 year old daughter in 1986 at a HEB in Kingsville TX. An older woman in her late 60’s and her son in his 30’s met me in the aisle coming towards me in the opposite direction. They complimented me on my beautiful, blonde, blue eyed baby girl. The older woman ran her hand over my daughters face to bless her. I said thank you to the compliment and continued shopping not thinking anything of it. Went down the next aisle and guess who met me again?! This time the older woman came towards me and asked to hold my daughter. As she started to put her hands on her, the son came from behind me and tried to get between me and the front of the basket where my daughter sat. I immediately put my arms around my daughter and push the basket as hard as I could with my elbows pushing the older woman out of the way. I quickly got help from a worker. The police were called and excuses were made since no one saw the couple. The City Manager who lived in my neighborhood and whose daughters baby sat for me, called and told me that this was common place and advised me to be extra careful with my children. That event left a permanent mark on my life. Later that summer, my husband and myself were shopping in Service Merchandise. There was a little blonde 4 year old missing. Service Merchandise locked their doors and loading dock with us inside. The little girl was found asleep in the arms of a woman who claimed to be her mother. The child’s hair had been dyed brown, and the dye had run down the child’s neck which looked a little odd. The little girl had been drugged.

    Human trafficking is real. For those “nay sayer’s”, take a good look at the post boards in your grocery stores. Notice all the children who are missing. Better yet, take a stroll into your local Police Station. Interview the front desk and get the real scoop. Ask your local Sheriff. Investigate yourself. Don’t take my word. Get the statistics yourself. You will be shocked as to what is really going on and what is NOT being reported. My daughter did research on this subject for a paper she was writing. The statistics are staggering. Get informed before posting comments and passing judgement. Protect your children and grandchildren.

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