A mother’s warning about a suspicious stranger in a store parking lot is a wakeup call to parents with young children. Kaley Dykstra’s trip to the Target by The Empire Mall turned terrifying, when she saw someone trying to get into her car while her two-year-old daughter was inside. She had stepped away for a few seconds to grab a shopping cart. She scared the guy away, and her children are safe. Dykstra is sharing her story on Facebook, and now with KELOLAND News, and hopes it helps other moms and dads avoid heartbreak.
On a Friday shopping trip, Dykstra got more than she bargained for in the Target parking lot on Louise Avenue.
“We could be having a different conversation if I did one thing differently,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra was getting her two-year-old and six-month-old ready to go in, but needed a cart. She carried her baby with her in a sling, and locked her daughter in the car while she went to a nearby cart corral. The carts were a few parking stalls away from her car.
“As soon as I got ten feet away from my car, this guy made a beeline toward my vehicle,” Dykstra said in her Facebook video.
She used her car remote to sound the horn. It scared him away, but Dykstra says she saw him lingering near another car with children in it.
“I was crying. You always think about the worst what ifs and it was scary to think what could’ve, what could’ve happened,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra reported it to Target and called Sioux Falls Police. She says she didn’t call police right away, and officers weren’t able to find the man for questioning.
A Target employee told her store security would take care of the issue. A spokesperson for the company says, “The safety and security of Target’s guests is critically important to us. As soon as the guest made us aware of this situation, we alerted our security teams and leaders looked into it further. We encouraged the guest to call law enforcement to provide more details and are happy to provide video footage or photos to help with any investigation. We want our guests to have a safe and positive experience at Target, and always have team members on hand who can walk our guests to their cars if they feel uncomfortable for any reason.”
Public Information Officer Sam Clemens says since no actual crime happened, it’s hard to know the man’s intentions.
“People usually jump to the worst case scenario. They start thinking about kidnapping or human trafficking. It could’ve been something where he was going to steal something from the car,” Clemens said.
Whatever the case, Dykstra is sharing her story on Facebook to remind parents to always be as vigilant as possible.
“It’s kind of mindblowing how it’s been shared and how many people have viewed it,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra is thankful everything’s ok, because she knows nothing at any store could ever replace her children.
“You hug everybody a little bit closer and you tell the people you love that you love them,” Dykstra said.