Who doesn’t love a trip to Ikea? The bargains, the maze of possibility with all the little decorated rooms, the cafeteria.
But one mum has taken to Facebook to urge people to be cautious – both in Ikea and in general – after a scary incident in the Swedish super store left her terrified.
Diandra Toyos was shopping with her mum and three kids at her local Ikea in Southern California, when she suddenly felt like she was being followed.
As the kids were enjoying trying out the couches and having a great time, both women noticed a “well-dressed, middle aged man circling the area and getting closer” to where they were shopping.
“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.”
As they moved into another area, the man continued to follow them, before they then noticed a second man, also circling them.
Beginning to become worried the women grabbed the children and sat donw where they were to see what the men would do. For almost 30 minutes the women waited, and so did the two men.
“The area they were hanging around had an exit right by it,” recalled Ms Toyos. “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.”
The women then decided to leave, making sure the men knew that they had seen them, and made their way out of the shop to security.
“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.”
Thankfully Ms Toyos and her children were all ok but she says she wanted to share her story to remind all parents to always be aware.
“Please PLEASE be aware when you're out with your children,” she wrotes. “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!)”
“This is not meant to scare you. We have to live our lives. I will go back to that IKEA again. Please don't boycott IKEA. The truth is, we need to be aware no matter where we are when we are with our kids. And unfortunately we can't always assume the best of people. Live your life. Take your kids places. But be aware. And be attentive.