Mom Shares Footage Of A Man Almost Snatching Her Daughter To Caution Other Parents About Just How Fast It Can Happen

This is terrifying. On October 16, a Houston mom posted surveillance footage of a man taking her daughter from a shopping cart on Facebook. Thankfully, she was able to get her child back before anything else bad happened, but it’s a frightening reminder of just how quickly things can go terribly wrong.

Florence Monauer was shopping at H-Mart, a grocery store in Houston, when a strange man approached her cart and picked up her 14-month-old daughter, Emery, while her back was turned. As he pulled her out of the cart, Emery’s legs got caught in her shopping cart cover, alerting Monauer to what was happening. “When I heard the noise, I turned around and saw the man holding Emery, but Emery was caught in the cover,” Monauer explained in a Facebook post. “Emery then started crying loudly, drawing attention from other shoppers.” She continued,

He said to me, "aww, I was just trying to take you while your mom wasn't looking." WHO SAYS THAT!? He had previously teased the baby when we came into the aisle, and then left. But I turned my head for less than a minute, and THIS happens! Who knows whether he was just joking, was a human trafficker, or a pedophile! I am already very paranoid, and this happened on the one day I turned my head away for a few seconds!

She was later able to obtain surveillance video from the store, showing the man swoop in and take the baby:

In the video, Monauer appears to act fairly friendly toward the man, who continues to hold the baby as she attempts to right the cart cover. “I thought he was just an over-friendly guy and maybe he didn't understand what was appropriate and what wasn't,” she wrote. “I didn't want to make a big scene out of it, and I generally don't want to assume that people are up to no good.” But she realized later that she shouldn’t have humored his behavior (which was completely inappropriate, whether his intention was to actually kidnap the baby or not. You don’t pick up other people’s kids without their consent. Period). “I'm so angry with myself for letting him hold her for even a second,” she admitted. “The more I thought about it, the more wrong it appeared.”

Some commenters have criticized Monauer for not reacting more strongly and for allowing the stranger to hold her baby at all. But I can totally imagine having the same reaction as Monauer — feeling shocked and paralyzed by a bizarre situation, and unsure of how to react in the moment. I think a lot of people (women especially) have experienced someone behaving really inappropriately, and even threateningly, and have tried to laugh it off and move on, only to realize in hindsight just how screwed up it was. The impulse to "not make a scene" or "not rock the boat" can be really powerful.

Monauer contacted the police the night of the incident and later filed a report. “For me, the crime of attempting to kidnap someone was completed the moment when he picked up my child with my back turned and without my consent,” she told KHOU. The man has yet to be identified, though police are investigating.

Images: Florence C. Monauer/Facebook