Mom Warns Others About Alleged Encounter with Human Traffickers at IKEA

Diandra Toyos was shopping in IKEA with her three children, when she noticed two men that she believes were targeting them

"We were in the couch section and the kids were enjoying climbing on each couch and trying them out," Toyos wrote in a Facebook post. "...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."

 

It wasn't long before Diana's mom (who was shopping with her) noticed another man that also appeared to be following them.

"We sat in one of the little display rooms [for] close to 30 minutes," Toyos explained. "And they sat too. They sat down on one of the couches on the display floor that faced us."

 

When the unnerving encounter had been going on for almost an hour, Toyos's mother decided to make eye contact -- very clearly letting them know that she saw them.

They moved on, and managed to shake the men at that point, after speaking to an IKEA employee and using the bathroom. Toyos then immediately contacted IKEA security.

 

"These men weren't shopping," Diana wrote in her now viral Facebook post.

"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," she continued.

 

"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," Toyos concluded.

 

To learn more about how to protect your children and how to stop child sex trafficking, visit www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/trafficking.

 
 
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