Shopping Safety: What to do if you’re being followed, watched by a stranger

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Whether it’s a movie theater or a grocery store, women across the country have shared chilling stories of someone seemingly following them or creating unsettling moments.

We’ve heard it before: trust your gut.

Women are being reminded to do just that more than ever before. Incidents have been reported down aisles, or in the parking lot.

The growing concern is not new to retired Metro police officer and current Director of Training at Royal Range in Bellevue, Bob Allen.

“We hear that, and I mean you hear it all over Nashville, and every city too. It’s not just here that it’s happening,” Allen said. He dedicates most of his time teaching women self-defense and situational awareness.

“We talk about people having that sixth sense,” said Allen. “You’re like something is wrong with this picture, but people just ignore it all of the time, and think they’re being silly or people think I’m crazy or don’t want to offend them. Who cares who you offend nowadays, especially if it’s about my safety?”

A spokesperson for Kroger told News 2 that cameras and security personnel are inside and outside of all of their stores. Protocols are in place if a customer feels uncomfortable and that includes calling local authorities. Allen said little acts can make a huge difference.

“If you have a cart in your hand, I can shove that at you ,and I can use that to keep a distance between me and you and things of that nature,” Allen said. “That really changed my thought on just carrying my bags in my hands ,where I can’t really defend myself.”

If a potential stalker tries to distract you with questions like “Can I borrow your phone?” Allen suggested having a programmed response prepared so you don’t stop to think about what they said.

Here are other safety tips from Allen:

  • Rely on the buddy system, try to shop with a family member or friend
  • Ask your family member or friend to watch your back as you place bags in your car
  • Report problems to a store manager
  • Ask for an employee to escort you to your vehicle

Taking a self-defense course is highly recommended. Royal Range offers a variety of courses you can learn more about HERE.

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