Three different women in the Midlands have written about scary situations while shopping - and all of the posts have garnered a ton of shares on social media.
And the theme in all of these posts: please be sure you're aware of your surroundings.
The most recent post was written by Emma Kate Smalley on March 5. Smalley, an 18-year-old Midlands native and USC student says she and three of her friends requested mall security to escort them to their car after they alleged a man was following them around various stores at Columbiana Centre.
"In most instances like this, my friends and I would call the guys out, but we realized that this was dangerous and sketchy," Smalley said. "It's better to be safe than sorry! I wanted to share this post so that girls can be aware that this DOES happen, even at a mall that most people think of as safe."
Her post says:
ATTENTION TO ALL GIRLS IN THE COLUMBIA/IRMO AREA: today I went to Columbiana mall with 3 of my friends. After about 30 mins of being there, I notice two men blatantly staring at us. I don't really think anything of it at first.
We go to the food court to eat, and my friend notices that the men followed us there and were just standing and watching us from a distance.
At this point it was a little weird, so we get up and go to belk. Only one of the two men follow us there, and it was obvious that he was looking at random items, just stalling until we left the store.
We quickly walk to forever 21 (we were parked in this parking lot) but we knew it wasn't safe to leave the store alone. So we tell the employees our situation, and they call security.
Sure enough, while waiting on security, the same man comes into forever 21.
The security walks us out to our car, and the other man who had disappeared back at the food court was right outside the forever 21 door, waiting on us.
Once he realizes we got security, he quickly walks to his car which happened to parked right next to mine. I just wanted to share this because who knows what would have happened if we hadn't told security.
GIRLS BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS!!! And shout out to the forever 21 employees who were so helpful and nice to us
This is one of three posts that talk about a man following women around. In two other posts, one woman says she was followed at two separate locations on Bush River Road and Garners Ferry Road.
When we reached out to Columbiana Centre, they issued the following statement:
The safety of our visitors is always of the utmost importance. We encourage all of our guests and tenants to follow the “if you see something, say something” rule. Our security team is always available and we are thankful these girls knew to reach out for assistance. Any activity that threatens the well-being of our visitors will be taken very seriously.
Columbia police say they do not have any record of these instances reported, but did offer these tips to shoppers that they should follow to secure their safety. Because there are no incident reports, there is no description other than what the women described in their posts:
In Parking Areas
As You Shop
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