Women stalked, followed at local grocery stores
Arynn Tomson– Art Director
Multiple local women who were shopping alone or with small children have been targeted at the Stephenville Walmart and H-E-B. Many have taken to social media to share their frightening experiences while shopping after dark and are warning others to be safe.
These occurrences have usually occurred in the evening and when the victims are alone. Many of the stories describe seeing one or more men following them around the store or out in the parking lot. Some of these women have posted about the incidents of Facebook and Twitter to warn the public.
Facebook user Tiffany Herget posted in the Erath County Breaking News page that she was targeted at Walmart in Stephenville.
“I just got followed at Stephenville Walmart, basically chased, by [three] men,” Herget’s post stated.
Herget said she asked to be walked out by a Walmart employee. Many people commented on her post that in order to protect themselves from these encounters, she needs to get a handgun and carry.
“I took my pistol in when I had to go by myself … Been reading these stories about Walmart here. Can’t be too careful,” Facebook user Marissa Belcher commented.
“Don’t go alone, late at night. Get a license to carry. Lipstick mace, a blow horn. Take some sort of self-defense class,” Kayla Boyles of DeLeon said.
Another Facebook user, Jessica Lindsay, posted on her personal page that she was followed by two men inside H-E-B while shopping with her one-month-old daughter.
“I noticed two men on every aisle I was on. Very aware of all the crazy things I have heard happening around, I started feeling uneasy,” Lindsay said. “I went to checkout and noticed one man went to the parking lot while the other stayed back, watching me. I made eye contact to let them know I was aware and asked someone to walk out with me. We got into the car and the men were in the truck parked next to us.”
Lindsay was told by the manager that these men have been targeting young women and women with children that need to be buckled in.
“I wanted to panic but remained calm, my dad is an ex-cop and talked me [through] situations like this, and [I] finished my shopping,” Lindsay said. “I made mental notes as to what each were wearing, body type…”
In addition to getting followed inside the store, Tarleton student Briana Wilson was also followed while she was driving home. Wilson also posted about her encounter with the men on Facebook.
“My home is maybe [one] minute from Walmart and I was so scared of them knowing where I lived or getting my license plate number or anything, so I make many turns and weave in and out of lanes and eventually lose them at a light,” Wilson said.
A few women have urged the city or the stores to do something in order to help stop these occurrences, such as officers present outside of the stores after dark.
“It’s really not hard to see when someone is being followed,” Boyles said.
“We have to be vigilant. I think patrol officers would probably put a halt on these occurrences,” Lindsay said.
Many of the women who have had these experiences think that the information about these incidents should be put into a database to help the police find the men responsible.
“The police department should have a thorough database with pictures, vehicles, any and all data compiled together. To help with investigating sex traffickers and keeping up every statement they have had about it,” Boyles said. “That identifying these sick individuals would be easier on them. Or perhaps past incidents might spark a memory to someone else. So it would have to be public. That way the whole community could help out!”
Most of these posts have ended with a warning: be aware of your surroundings. The women posting hope to let others know how to be safe and encourage them not shop alone at night unless they absolutely have to. Many advise women to ask an employee to walk them out if they feel unsafe.
“I would advise everyone to just be aware of their surroundings,” Lindsay said. “If you feel uncomfortable about someone or something that is happening, speak up! These days, people are desperate and will do anything, anywhere, anytime.”
“Never let your guard down, especially when you are alone. Just please be extra careful and pay attention to your surroundings,” Wilson said. “And if you feel uncomfortable, trust your gut and get help! I have no idea what would have happened to me if I never noticed him or have gotten help.”