The Day a Stranger Tried to Take My Child

Friends, I am so grateful for our network of moms because this story gives me the chills. On Tuesday after school (around 2:45 P.M.), I made the unfortunate mistake of taking all three of my wild children to the grocery store. We were at the critical point where we didn’t have milk or bread or any treats for rewarding good behavior, so off to HEB we went.  

I parked in my usual place at the edge of the parking lot, and I didn’t see anything or anyone unusual when I parked. My son and one of my twins had some sort of altercation in between me closing the door to get my purse and arriving on the opposite side of the car to get all three kids out, so one twin was screaming. I decided to hold that twin, and I grabbed my son’s and my other twin’s arms in my left hand and headed across the street.  

We got across the street safely, and my son bolted toward the HEB door while my loose twin wiggled her arm free. The twin I was still holding was fussing about something, so I turned to look at her and I lost my focus on my loose twin for JUST a split second.

I looked up, and from out of nowhere, a young, dirty couple was upon my daughter, touching her head and separating her from me and my other two kids. They were ushering her into the parking lot. As soon as they touched her, she started to SHRIEK. All of a sudden, she was yelling and I was yelling for her to get back to me, and the couple broke apart and walked off like nothing happenedwithout saying a word.

This would have been weird enough on its own, but I rushed my three into the store and toward the baskets, and I noticed the couple had followed me. By the grace of God, the kids were essentially pinned in between two rows of baskets because there was only one “driving cart” left, and it was surrounded by rows of regular carts. This allowed me time and protection to get all three kids safely into the cart (side note: I had to bribe my four-year-old son with Popsicles and gum to get him to agree to ride in the basket). I backed out of the long row of carts with all three kids, and this couple was still behind me. My “Mama-dar” was on high alert, so instead of starting my shopping, I headed toward the pharmacy where I knew there would be managers with access to a phone to all security. The couple followed me, and when they realized I was staying put until I have some assistance, they disappeared out the front of the store. The manager tried to go find them, but they were gone.

This freaked me out and made me SUPER thankful to have all my kids with me. I was thinking I would post this on my own blog to tell my friends, and that would be the end of it. Well, I was at dinner the other night and told my girlfriends about what happened and that I was going to blog about it…and my friend Elizabeth gave me the strangest look and said, “That just happened to me too!”

Elizabeth had been at the same HEB at the same time of day just the day before. Her situation happened where this couple, along with a third man, was walking into HEB with Elizabeth and her daughter from the parking lot. As they were walking through the doors, the woman started to walk backwards, pointing at Elizabeth’s daughter and saying, “She’s cute!” and “Look at her!” while pointing to the men and trying to touch the child. Elizabeth did the right thing and got super defensive, putting her daughter in the cart and moving away quickly. She told me that she still felt like they were around the store watching her the entire time she shopped—the eerie feeling of being watched lingered with her the whole time.

Like me, Elizabeth was grateful that all was well, but didn’t think to file a police report or really pursue things any further—that is, until we talked and agreed that this was NOT a coincidence.

Thanks to many great people, Dya Campos from HEB contacted me this morning to figure out how they can help. We are still in the process of figuring out who these people are, but we needed to warn other moms. What I learned from Dya, however, is that if you are in or around HEB and something happens that makes you uneasy, TELL THE MANAGER! HEB wants to keep all their shoppers safe, especially the littlest ones. You are not a pest; you are helping keep yourself and others safe.

Moms, summer is almost here. This means kids are going to be out and about more than ever and, sadly, the bad people know this. Here are some suggestions to help keep yourself and your kids safe:

  1. Remember to always be vigilant about observing your surroundings.  
  2. This totally applies to me and I need to get better about it for sure, but PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY! You are distracted by your phone and not watching your kids when you are texting, even if it is at the park or HEB. Text from your house.
  3. Strap your kids into the carts at HEB, Target, Walmart, etc. The straps will keep them safe from people grabbing them AND from them taking a nasty fall.
  4. Remind the other people who care for your kids about the dangers that are out there. This includes dads, grandparents, nannies, carpool, whoever. Everyone needs to stay alert.
  5. Report suspicious people. Program non-emergency police numbers in your phone—SAPD’s is (210) 207-7273.

Stay safe, fellow mamas, and if we all work together, this village can protect and nurture all our kids.

70 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a SA Grandma. I raised my kids here in San Antonio and always thought my overly cautious tendencies were maybe a bit extreme. Reading this reminded me of the reason I chose to keep my kids close, even when they disagreed. As moms we are responsible for the safety of our kids. That’s understood. As a grandma I feel responsible to help those young women (and men) who have their hands full when out in public with their children. It’s not easy to parent a child or children in our fast paced society. We older folks who’ve raised our kids can do plenty to keep all kids safe from evil people who prey on busy parents who look away for only a minute. If we all keep our eyes open, these predators won’t succeed and will be caught immediately. If we love kids, we’ll watch out for them. All of them.

  2. Kind of makes you think about carrying that concealed handgun, doesn’t it? Someone tried that with my kids, I couldn’t be capable of the restraint you just showed. I’d find out if they can outrun a bullet traveling at 650 feet per second! Glad everyone is safe. That’s major creepy!

    • My wife reposted this on FB, and I thought the same thing. It’d be a definite moment I’d consider unholstering. Probably end up on YouTube or something, but whatevs. Kids know Daddy’s job is to keep them “so safe”. Daddy’s gonna do that job, dangit.

  3. @BC Thanks again for the website info! I have sent out an email to “Yello Dyno” who specializes in protecting children from people who mean them harm like abductors. I have asked if their organization would consider coming to San Antonio for a prevention clinic for our youth because of the recent reports we have been having here. I know this kind of thing has been going on for years but it just appears to be increasing. It’s worth a shot!

  4. Can you please post a thorough description? It seems like that should be the FIRST thing you let people know.

  5. It’s been about 2 months since I’ve frequented the Target closest to me over on Loop 410 and Hwy 151 because of a similar incident. Only this one involves a man or a younger woman trailing you through the store and then signaling to an SUV circling the parking lot once you’re out of the store.

    I walked into Target and overheard a lady talking to the manager about this ordeal so I stayed vigilant. However, when I was done and was wheeling my cart with my 3 year old daughter toward the car, I noticed a young lady signal a black SUV across the parking lot and she made a gesture towards me. The truck starting coming my way very slowly and at that moment I got closer to my vehicle, I hit the panic button so the horn could start blaring.

    Sure enough, the SUV drove by quickly toward the Target entrance and scooped this lady up. I then called the manager from my own SUV after I got my daughter in and report the license plates to SAPD.

    I am not the first to encounter this at any of our area Target locations, Alamo Ranch included. This is becoming more common and during day time hours as well. Take pictures, or better yet, if your child is in the cart with you, pretend that you are distracted and start texting someone, your spouse, your parents or siblings and have them call the store you are at immediately!

    Do not tip off these people. Play into their game and act like you are distracted by placing that phone call or having someone do it for you so that they can provide management with your exact location while in the store.

    My sister and I have put this into plan with both our mother and in-laws since my entire ordeal. If this happens again and one of us is being trailed inside the store, we send off a group text alert letting them know what store, which aisle or area we are currently in, what we are wearing and what the perp looks like so that they can start calling the store to speak to a manager immediately to relay these details.

    These perps need to be caught while on the store’s premises!

  6. Wow this makes me think my encounter was a bit suspicious. I was at babies r us near 151 area and a man stopped us in a car repeatedly asking if we spoke Spanish. Clearly we Said no several times before he drove off. Afrer we left babies r us we went to target in same shopping center. A different man in a different car stopped us again asking if we spoke Spanish. I again had to say no a couple times before he drove off. I just thought it was very strange and thought I would share. This took place in the parking lot of each store.

  7. Did they not release video or descriptions of the suspects??!!! This is my HEB, but regardless of which one we need info to combat these type issues and scumbags like this!!!!

  8. Thank you @BC… You have lots of good resources to share. I will be researching today. I just wish San Antonio had something for us like what you suggested, “YellowDyno” , to educate our children and at affordable costs through safety clinics and workshops. I know it’s ultimately my job to teach them but it would be great to have more support from experts and police to actually show us through “stranger danger prevention” clinics. I wonder if HEB would be interested in providing something like this for our city since they have been targeted? That would be amazing! I would totally sign up my kids!

    • I looked into YellowDyno after an incident at my child’s school caused alarm and asked the school to bring this company in and offer the courses to families and that I’m sure parents would pay the fee for materials. They didn’t do it. But YellowDyno will come to San Antonio if we have a group. Maybe if enough parents are interested?? Their program looks great. Covers predators we both know and don’t know and how to handle them.

    • @Jody – the web address is http://www.yellodyno.com

      I was misspelling the name. It’s Yello Dyno. There’s a video on their website about how a child outsmarted an abductor by using their techniques. Hope this resource helps with research!!

  9. It would be great if an organization or a team of volunteers would come together and have a “Stranger Danger Safety Clinics” (or something to that effect)….This could be a “hands on” training for our children and parents to participate in together and have real life role play situations but under our supervision. I would love the opportunity for my children to learn how to protect themselves the best that they can. If there is something already out there like what I am suggesting….please share! We must fight back and send a clear message to “these” people that we will take a stand in protecting our children and our city!

    • I would like to add!!! If anyone is willing (on an organized day) to send a clear message to “these” abductors” by guarding/patrolling the parking lots at HEB’s around the city…..COUNT ME IN! #ActionSpeaksLouderThanWords #AwarenessForOthers #VoiceForOurCity

      • A public blogging of full detailed descriptions of these and any other perps is absolutely critical and will send a message that we are not afraid to give full physical descriptions and blast it out to the world. It’s one thing to describe what happened and our feelings about it but we can take more action if we are no-holds-barred about OUTING these people by giving full descriptions. The news story about this gave no descriptions either.

    • I may have missed it, but do you have a description of the couple? Hispanic, white, black, etc. age, tattoos, type of car driven?

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