While shopping at Target I noticed a man near us in the Back To School section. He seemed odd because who shops at Target and doesn’t have a cart or basket. I continued on because there wasn’t anything to worry about at that point. I noticed him again a few aisles later.
A few moments later I noticed the same man was at the end cap of the grocery aisle we were in. He was browsing. Still, he had no cart or basket. Weird, right?
I happen to glance at him and he noticed I saw him. I continued shopping because it’s not a crime to be weird. He appears again but this time he smartened up and grabbed an empty Target basket from somewhere. Now I felt alarmed. I saw the same man multiple times within 10 minutes.
Maybe he is just shopping in the same area as I am. It is Target…
In the next 5 minutes I see him 3 times. Still with an empty basket and always near the end caps that point outwards towards the rest of the store.
I texted Brandon and my friend , Kristy, what was happening. My friend gave me clear instructions to make sure I remained safe.
“Don’t leave the store. Tell someone (an employee) that you feel like someone is following you. And have someone walk with you to the car. Take a picture if you can or record it. Be discreet.”
I get my camera ready to record and am holding my phone passively in my hand while continuing my grocery shopping. I caught a side view of him with his empty basket walking past the end caps, again.
I asked Penny to keep one hand on the cart and for now to just keep her voice down. I reminded her of past conversations we have had about strangers and right now was the moment to practice EXTRA safety. She nodded her head and grabbed the cart.
I send the video to my friend in case of an emergency and she suggested I put Penny in my cart. At the ripe age of 5.5 I put her in the seat, explained why it was safer and she nodded her head and didn’t complain.
He walks past again. This time he glanced right at me, grabbed an item, and put it back on the shelf. His basket was still empty!!! He clearly wasn’t grocery shopping.
I noted where the employees were at that moment and maneuvered through some aisles and walked in circles to try to gain distance. I was feeling paranoid and didn’t want to jump to conclusions about this strange man. I grabbed the last few items I needed and BAM! There he was again. He was behind us so I knew I couldn’t get a video… but maybe Penny could. She is sitting facing everything behind me.
I open my videos and show Penny the first video I took of the man. “You see that stranger? We need to get him on video. Can you be a secret spy and record him or take his picture?” I felt like the worst mom ever but I needed to get this man’s face on camera in case things escalated. Penny replied “I’ll be a super sneaky spy, mom!” My amazing girl. Bold. Brave.
I got the camera ready to record video and when I noticed him coming in our direction I gave Penny her instructions again quickly and started recording. I pretended to browse the deodorants while Penny “played a game” on my phone. She shouted “I got him!” I shushed her and shut off the recording. I took a look at it and she did do it!!! A clear video of him walking behind us, with a still empty basket.
I had nothing else to buy and couldn’t prolong my trip any longer. I walked towards the register and scanned for an employee that wasn’t at the register. What a great moment for there not to be any!
I entered the women’s clothes and tried to get lost in there and I spotted her. An employee WITH WALKIE TALKIES AT HER BELT!! I give her the wide “help me” eyes and she gets closer. I tell her “I need help” and explain the situation. She walkies for her manager. I point the man out. He grabs an item from the stands near the registers and walks to self check out. The employee explains everything to the manager and meanwhile this man finishes at the register and walks straight into the mall. Luckily, the employee and manager also saw him as he left.
Security arrives and watches the videos on my phone. I sent them to him and they explain that I will be escorted by him for the rest of my shopping trip and to my car.
They grabbed all my information. And the manager leaves to file a report and check security footage.
I am escorted out. I didn’t feel safe yet. What if they saw my car. I drove to the closest police station and walked in. I explained my situation and asked if I could wait a while in their station. The agree and another officer comes to talk to us. He leaves briefly and when he returns, hands Penny a stuffed animal and some coloring pages.
I left the station after 25 minutes but I still didn’t feel safe. I drove through all the surrounding cities until I couldn’t drive any longer. I arrived home hours later. We are safe. But why don’t I feel safe.
Target security called me later that evening and they reviewed footage and will be paying attention in case he comes back. They filed a report and if I go back to their store, Asset Protection will escort me for my shopping trip. Kinda confirms my theory that he was following us.
Be vigilant for predators. He was waiting in the Back to School section. A spot were moms and children frequent as they prepare for school. He was relentless. No matter how I walked the aisles, he was nearby.
Keep your eyes open and your kids close.
Thankfully, we are blessed to be safe. I had a friend that helped me stay safe with clear simple instructions.
If you read this far, I hope you learn something.
I pray you never have to go through this but I hope you will now know what you need to do to be safe.
- Find an employee
- Be escorted out
- Go to a police station if you feel like you are followed
- Take the longest way home possible
👉🏼Trust your intuition!!!!!