Diandra Toyos was shopping for a new family couch with her three kids – aged seven weeks, one and four – at her local IKEA when she says she noticed she was being followed by two men.
Sharing her experience on Facebook, Diandra, from Southern California, said she got “a bad feeling” when she saw 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 [one-year-old] son," she wrote, in a post that has now been shared more than 102,000 times.
"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."
When her son wandered off into a display room, she said the man "dropped what he was doing and quickly and closely followed us into the area".
It was then that Diandra's mother - who she was also shopping with the group - said she noticed another man, aged in his 20s, also following them.
"[We] decided to sit down and wait for them to move on. We had a gut feeling something was going on, but we hoped we were wrong and they would move on," Diandra wrote.
"So we sat in one of the little display rooms. For close to 30 minutes. And they sat too. They sat down on one of the couches on the display floor that faced us. That was when we knew our gut feeling was right and something was off."
After talking with an IKEA employee, using the bathroom and circling around the store, Diandra claimed she and her family managed to lose the two men.
"When we got through the maze of IKEA, we reported what happened to security," she said.
Diandra said she had read another Facebook post from a woman who had a similar experience while shopping with her kids, and although she thought "that would never happen to me" at the time, she knew the behaviour to look out for.
She said she thought it was clear that the two men weren't shopping and were instead focused on her children.
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"[They would] occasionally pick something up and act like [they were] looking at it, but [they'd] look right over the top of it at my kids," she wrote.
"They weren't waiting for anyone...these guys appeared to be alone. They didn't even talk to each other. They didn't talk to anyone.
"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...he instantly looked away. That was odd to me."
She felt "almost sure" that her kids were the targets of human traffickers - however this claim has not been proven.
"If not that, something else shady was obviously going on. Either way, as parents, we NEED to be aware," she wrote.
"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....I may have lost one. The thought just makes me completely ill.
"Trust your gut. It's there for a reason."