A common experience while grocery shopping with young kids often involves strangers striking up an innocent conversation with the child. It usually involves something about their adorable looks, or how good they are being, or something just as plain as saying hello with a smile and a wave.
Most parents wouldn’t consider any of these interactions abnormal and often think of them as a welcome distraction when the child is being perhaps less cooperative in the mission of getting the shopping done.
For one mom in Longview, Texas however, what started as a seemingly minor chat with a couple in the check-out line, soon became what she believed to be an attempt at kidnapping for human-trafficking purposes. This is how the story unfolds…
Amanda Cropsey Florczykowski had just finished getting her groceries and was waiting in line to finish paying. Accompanying her were her kids, including her toddler daughter who was sitting in the cart. Amanda decided to pull her out and this is when the couple ahead of them struck up a conversation:
“… the typical conversation about how “cute your daughter is” and then asked about her age, repeatedly … I quickly became uncomfortable with the woman’s body language and close proximity to my cart/kids. I picked my daughter up only to have the woman ask if she could hold her. The woman was so close at this point that my toddler reached her arms around the woman before I could really respond.”
To those reading, this interaction definitely feels a bit pushy and invasive of their private space. So much so that when Amanda finally got to the cashier, they had assumed that the couple was a close acquaintance of Amanda and her family. Amanda recalls:
“In an instant her proximity finally changed and she backed away. I grabbed back on to my daughter as the woman was saying, “Say bye to mommy” – what an unusual comment to provoke a child to say. The woman resisted returning her when I physically pulled my daughter from her arms.”
Even though this conversation took barely moments, it left Amanda shaken and confused. The couple eventually finished paying, but Amanda noticed another strange man lurking and behaving suspiciously:
“After this couple left, I was really shaken up but still noticed the man a few feet away in my peripheral vision, continuing to stand, by himself, with no groceries, in a closed check-out lane. He faced the opposite direction, but was looking over his shoulder at me … His eyes did not leave my every move … I loudly conversed with the cashier about their security staff and the odd couple that seemed predatory.”
Amanda did make it home safely with her kids, but not without being scared out of her mind! She instantly looked up some information online to see if what she had experienced had anything to do with similar kidnappings in the area. She was amazed at what she found:
“I’ve since researched sex-trafficking and some details were precisely my experience. I want to recount those specifics to create awareness in hopes that you can protect your own children.”
Amanda, who described this incident via Facebook, included some important reminders for other parents. Reminders such as these types of predators work in small teams, that they often are only purchasing a couple of items which they can quickly abandon if need be, that they are almost too close for comfort and touchy feely, and that they come in all races, appearances, and ages.
In short, the advice is to never let your guard down around your children even when you think you are in a very safe place. Thinking back to that moment, Amanda is still a bit shaken. She ended her post with:
“The thought of what could have happened is sickening. I’m just like you; a mom and I hope my experience helps you to be, not fearful, but cautious!
2 Timothy 1:7 ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.'”
When it comes to making sure one’s children are safe, it is best to trust your gut feeling and be vigilant no matter how unfriendly it might appear to the rest of the world. We are thankful that Amanda was able to sense trouble and act accordingly to make sure they didn’t end up victims.