No matter your age or sex, ALWAYS BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS and don't be afraid to ask for help if you suspect something.
WARNING TO PARENTS: this is a story from a friend of mine. She was shopping last week in Wegmans in Geneseo with her teenage daughter. I am not sharing their names out of respect for their privacy.
About 1/3 of the way through the store, the mom asked the daughter to go grab something down the next aisle. The daughter, not aware of her surroundings, almost ran into a man. She quickly said sorry for almost running into him and turned around since she also realized she was in the wrong aisle. Hearing her daughter say sorry, the mom looked up and saw the man turn his head, smile a wicked smile, and watch her daughter walk away. This man was about 40 years old, dressed in pressed slacks and a shirt buttoned up to his throat. He was clean shaven and had a very short, almost military, haircut. He was wearing a thin linen jacket and beat up sneakers. He didn’t have a cart, basket, or was even carrying any groceries.
The mom and daughter tried to go about their shopping, but noticed that he was in every aisle they were in and if he wasn’t, he was positioned at the end of that aisle either in the front or back of the store. He tried to make eye contact with the daughter…the mom stared at him and she said it was if she [the mom] was invisible. At one point, the mom wondered if she was imagining he was following them, so she attempted to switch aisles suddenly, and she ended up literally running her cart into him and he was out of breath like he ran to find them. He said nothing to her even after she ran into him with her cart. At this point, the mom realizes she needs help. She is at the back of the store and he is pacing in the front aisle of the store. She tried to go through the produce department to get to the front desk, but when she got there, so was he. She turns back around and is looking for an employee. She finds two female employees near the pharmacy stocking shelves. She tells them she needs help…there has been a man following them for 20 minutes. One employee calls the manager, the other employee asks what he looks like. The second employee goes around the corner and he is waiting in the next aisle. Both female employees say, ‘Stay right here’ and they position her and her daughter between them. The manager arrives, they quickly fill him in and he calls 911. As he is on the phone with 911, the man comes around the corner and sees them all looking at him. This once cocky man, ducks his head, shoves his hands in his pockets, and bolts for the door. The manager runs after, but was not able to get a plate number, but did see him get in a car and leave the parking lot. short evening dresses
Police told the mother he was probably one of three types of men: 1. Waiting for the mom to be distracted or send the daughter out of eye sight where he was going to attempt a dialogue or/and touch her and be done; 2. He was the inside man scoping for possible victims. He would have had an accomplice in the parking lot and they were going to try to grab the daughter when they were in the parking lot; 3. He was looking to abduct her. Why else would he be wearing a linen jacket on a day where wind chills were around zero and sneakers? According to the police, if he wore a winter coat, it would be easier for a victim to maneuver out of his grip. And sneakers…obviously to move faster.
The man was not apprehended and they do not know who he is. Even if they did find him or know who he was, he technically didn’t break any law. He is probably not from Geneseo because according to the police, these men do not ‘shop’ in their own ‘backyards’. And he will probably NOT return to the Geneseo Wegmans because they do have the whole incident on camera…including the mom running into him with her shopping cart.
My friend wants to make sure that you don’t boycott Wegmans because of this. This could have happened anywhere and Wegmans did a fantastic job. She felt safe and protected from the moment the store employees were aware of the situation. They helped her finish her shopping, stayed with her during check out and even walked her and her daughter to their car.
Therefore, keep a close eye on your kids when in public. Apparently these men look for mothers (or fathers) that are distracted whether in the store or in the parking lot. Be aware of your surroundings…no matter what your age. If something or someone looks out of place, tell someone or at the very least protect yourself. Stuff like this happens in our ‘neck of the woods’ too!