An Oklahoma mother, Amanda “Missy” Kalidy, says that she had a terrifying experience at a local Target store that left her questioning her daughter’s safety. The mother claims that while shopping in Target, her 4-year-old daughter was approached by a girl who appeared to be about 9 years old. The girl attempted on numerous occasions to give Missy’s daughter candy, but each time Missy refused her advances. However, things became more pressing as the girl wouldn’t leave the preschooler alone at the checkout line. It got so severe that Missy had the cashier call for management at which point the girl, and a man signaling to her from across the store, bolted from the Target and drove away together in a van. Missy believes the man was trying to kidnap her daughter and was using the other little girl to lure children away from their parents.
Fox 6 Now reports that a mother was shopping in a Target store in Edmond, Oklahoma, when she believes a man using another child as bait attempted to lure her 4-year-old daughter away to be kidnapped. The mother says they declined the candy initially and didn’t think anything of the interaction until the girl approached them again. Missy says that she asked the little girl where her mother was but never received an answer.
“There was this little girl that was following us, and she kept asking my daughter for candy. I was asking her where her mother was.”
Finally, with the little girl continuing to follow them to the checkout line, the mother had the cashier report the incident to management. When the manager was called to the register, the little girl with the candy was motioned away by a “strange man” nearby. The pair then drove away together in a van. Missy believes the man was using the little girl to lure children away from their parents for child trafficking, but the police weren’t so quick to call the man a kidnapper.
Michael Snowden with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Human Trafficking Division notes that Missy’s fears are real and that child trafficking is a real threat in Oklahoma. However, he claims that those running child trafficking rings typically don’t snatch children from retail stores but instead recruit girls by making them promises of things they currently don’t have in their life.
“We don’t generally see people snatching children from their parents or women being abducted from a retail store of some sort. Human trafficking is much more subtle than that. These girls are recruited. They’re promised the world and love and those things that are maybe lacking in their lives.”
Snowden points out that he does not want to belittle anyone’s fears but says that the tactics described by Missy are more often associated with theft than kidnapping. He says that a child will be used to divert the adult’s attention away from car keys or a purse so that a theft can take place.
“We would never belittle someone’s fear, OK? But diversion is really a frequent tactic when I’m trying to steal your purse, get your car keys.”
Despite law enforcement believing that the strange occurrence was likely not kidnapping-related, Missy still took to Facebook to warn other parents about the dangers in retail stores.
The mother says that her fears were backed up by the Target store manager who allegedly told her that child predators will target the retail chain during the day as mothers are there with their children and may turn their backs while loading items into a vehicle. This would allow the predator time to snatch the child from the shopping cart.
“The manager told me [child predators] target Target because moms during the day with their kids, and many times moms turn their backs when loading the car and they can grab them from shopping carts. [sic]”
What do you think about the strange encounter at the Oklahoma Target? Do you think the mother is justified in her fears that her daughter was being targeted by a child trafficking ring using a young girl as bait?
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