Mom's Chilling Encounter With 'Human Traffickers' Reiterates 1 Important Lesson

Diandra Toyos family
Diandra Toyos/Facebook

When you become a parent, you develop a certain level of awareness that's unexplainable at times. Your senses are heightened, and you're more alert when it comes to your surroundings -- especially when your child is present. Diandra Toyos is likely familiar with this sixth sense, as the southern California mom of three believes she helped her family evade human trafficking by following her instincts during a recent outing at Ikea.


While shopping at Ikea with her mother and three young children, Diandra says in a Facebook post that an unnamed man started to make her feel uncomfortable and kicked her senses into overdrive.

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"... I noticed a well dressed, middle aged man circling the area, getting closer to me and the kids," the mom writes in her post. "At one point he came right up to me and the boys, and instinctively I put myself between him 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."

Yup, that's creepy!

After noticing the man was starting to follow her family, Diandra's mother spotted a second man repeating the same questionable patterns as the first guy -- instantly putting this mother-daughter duo on high alert.

"My mom said she watched as the older man dropped what he was doing and quickly and closely followed us into [another] area," Toyos mentions in her post. "At the same time, she noticed another man dressed more casually and in his 20s. He wasn't looking at us, but was walking the same circling pattern around us as the first man."

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Diandra and her mom decided to wait in a display area and stayed seated with the kids -- ever so vigilant -- hoping the mystery men would leave.

... But they never did leave.

"That was when we knew our gut feeling was right and something was off," Mom recounts on Facebook. "They sat the whole time we sat, and stood up right as we got up. We continued on and my mom turned around and realized the two men had moved and were sitting only one couch away from each other, still facing our direction."

"Something was off. We knew it in our gut," Toyos continues. "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."


Thankfully, Diandra and her family were able to slip away and alert security, who confirmed the two guys were not employees or some type of undercover loss prevention associates making sure no one stole anything.

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Though rates this mom's human trafficking claims as "unproven," the US State Department believes 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year. And, with California being home to three of the FBI's highest child sex trafficking areas, a parent would have every right to feel off about this situation.

Sadly, you just never know anyone's intentions these days. Reading Diandra's post made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Though I've never felt like someone was following me and my kids -- especially to this extent -- there have been times when a person or a situation put me into mama bear mode.

Obviously, this mom isn't a human trafficking expert -- as she notes in her Facebook post -- and she didn't know the true intentions of the men trailing her family that day in Ikea. Maybe it was pure coincidence that they lingered in the same places as her and her family. Maybe they really liked the same home furnishings Diandra was looking at. Maybe they were researchers conducting a study about families in Ikea -- or a team of undercover officers following the habits of families and how they align with staying safe. Or, maybe something was really off with the men that gave this mom every right to worry. 

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It looks like we'll never know, but at least one thing is clear: Diandra's actions kept her family safe, which is all that matters.

"Please PLEASE be aware when you're out with your children," Toyos reminds parents in her Facebook post. "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!)"

Becoming a parent has taught me to follow my instincts, no matter how foolish others might perceive them to be. As Diandra so aptly states in her Facebook post: "Trust your gut. It's there for a reason."

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