A shopper who went viral on TikTok said he and his wife noticed what they believed to be a floor walker chasing a 19-year-old woman inside the department store. But after looking a little closer, the couple realized the man may have had more sinister motives: human trafficking.
TikTok user Terry (@thebaldguy33) issued a “holiday PSA” in a video posted on Nov. 11 that has since garnered more than 2.3 million views. In the video, Terry said he and his wife were recently shopping in Tupelo, Mississippi when they encountered suspicious activity.
“It’s not a very large town, but it’s a good-sized community,” he said. “And we were in one of the department stores there. And I noticed a guy walking around. I thought maybe it was part of loss prevention.”
But then Terry said the man got in line behind a young woman who appeared to be between 18 and 20 years old. “We were in line behind him and he noticed us and was very kind and said, ‘Here you go, we’re not done shopping yet,'” the TikToker said. “So he kind of stepped out of line and headed to the back of the register where you exit. And we realized he kept his eye on this girl.”
Terry said the man’s actions concern him and his wife. “As she was about to leave, my wife looked at me and said, ‘Go.’ He followed the girl, trying not to be seen. Well, when we walk outside, he puts down what he’s holding and goes outside, then uses his cell phone.”
As Terry watched from a safe distance, the woman went to her car, put away her shopping bags, then turned toward the shopping center and entered another store. “I go to my car, and as I pull my car up to her curb, I notice another car parked about three or four streets away from her car,” he said. Ta. “The car moved. The lights come on. There’s a guy in a hoodie that looks like he’s leaning on the driver’s side.”
Terry said that’s when he decided to follow the woman into the store and warn her about the suspicious person. “I stepped back and said, ‘Ma’am, it made me and my wife feel very uncomfortable because we saw a man there who seemed to be watching you. I wanted to let you know.”
The woman reportedly noticed the stranger looking at her and revealed why she fled to another store. She said Terry offered to escort the woman to her car. “I said, ‘Let me pick up my girlfriend’s wife,’ and I’ll walk her to the car,” he said. “So we went out and her wife was there so I picked her up and we all walked together to her wife’s car. She got in the car and called her mother. , and left.”
Terry said the man in the car she noticed earlier was leaning out of the car the entire time the woman was preparing to leave, but did not look at her. “You’ll never convince me that the man inside that department store wasn’t paying attention to her, or that the people he was calling were not the people in that car. You can’t,” he said. “I know there’s a lot going on in terms of human trafficking and things like that. It happens even in small towns.”
He urged people to be aware of their surroundings and refrain from going out alone, especially in the evening. “Don’t go out alone. And if you do, be careful. Don’t be a weirdo, but don’t let preventable things happen.”
@thebaldguy33 Please note! This could have been a terrible situation!! #holiday #PSA #TraffickingAwareness #Love ♬ Love – River Bar
The Tiktoker also said he called the store to inform them of the situation. The store reportedly told Terry that they would report the incident to security and the police.
In the comments section, a viewer who identified herself as the young woman’s mother wrote, “This was about my daughter!!” I’m crying when I see this! ! Thank you to my wife for saving her life! I can’t express enough how grateful I am. ” This comment received over 30,000 likes.
Other viewers expressed relief and shared similar harrowing experiences.
“This happened to me about a month ago in broad daylight at the grocery store. After calling my husband, the first thing I drove to was the sheriff’s office,” one commenter wrote. wrote.
Another said: “Thank you for sharing this message!” We are all at risk! I am 56 years old and was attacked by a handyman in my home. We are never safe! ”
One viewer wrote: “Thank you for not being a bystander!”
“As a mother of a girl aged 17-21, thank you for looking out for her!” another commented.
Terry isn’t the first TikToker to issue a PSA about human trafficking. This summer, one woman said she was putting “marks” on her car to make her traffickers think she was already a target. Another TikToker warned people not to help suspicious people at gas stations.
The Daily Dot reached out to Terry for comment via direct message on TikTok.
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*First published: January 5, 2024 at 8:00 PM CST