Fact Check

Hobby Lobby Sex Trafficking Warning

Published May 27, 2015


Claim: A woman was followed by sex traffickers at a Yukon/Oklahoma City Hobby Lobby store on 26 May 2015.


This just appeared on my Facebook, and at least one comment said, "It is making the rounds girl! I have seen this pop up on my feed from 5 different friends that are not even friends with you!!", which immediately made me suspicious. I couldn't find anything about it on your site, or any other in just doing a search with an excerpt.

The Hobby Lobby in question is in Yukon, Oklahoma. Thank you!

"Today was a giant eye opener for me! I went to Hobby Lobby on I-40 today by myself around 2pm. I was talking with a friend on the phone and not really paying much attention. During this time I noticed a middle aged lady following me aisle to aisle. I ignored it for a bit and then she started to make me feel uncomfortable so I went back and forth across the store to see if she was actually following me. She was actually following me! After a brief run around the store I made a dash for the register. After I got in line the lady got right behind me. I stuck with my instinct and got out of line staring her down in the process. I went to an aisle nearby and watched as she checked out and left. She got into a white semi truck with no bed and then left. I should point out she made me feel so uncomfortable that I texted a good friend my location just in case. I was extra careful as I left and drove out of my way to make sure I wasn't followed. When I got to my friends house I was encouraged to call the manager of Hobby Lobby and I also called the police station. The policeman said that this is unfortunately a common thing and that they usually have two people helping for an abduction, a follower and a lookout. They are abducting people for sex trafficking. After they take someone they jump on I-40. He said they often use females because we don't find them a threat.

I wanted to post this because I wanted you to know there is a real risk for abduction and it's not just with kids or by men. They are using women to make the pick. The manager said that from the video tape they could tell she was indeed following me. The video was only able to capture the top of her head leading me to believe she may have done this several times before and maybe even knew where the cameras were. I'll end with the advice the policeman gave me. If you are ever in the situation where you believe you are being followed trust yourself and call 911. It doesn't matter if you are unsure."

Origins: On 26 May 2015, a Facebook user from Oklahoma City published the status update reproduced above. According to that update, an attempted abduction had occurred in the Yukon, Oklahoma, Hobby Lobby store that day. Additionally, the update reported that the incident was captured on closed circuit security cameras located inside the Hobby Lobby store in question and was reviewed by managers at the store (and possibly police).

In under 24 hours, the Oklahoma Hobby Lobby warning was shared tens of thousands of times by concerned Facebook users. In addition to the original status update, screenshots of the warning were also circulated:

hobby lobby abduction

The Hobby Lobby abduction warning closely resembled a number of similar retail-related panics urging shoppers to be on the lookout for lurking ne'er-do-wells in otherwise benign locations such as retail stores and shopping malls. The warning echoed previous rumors of an attempted abduction  at a Walmart store (or another WalMart store) and a Toledo mall, the $100 bill  carjacker or perfume robbers forwards, as well as a number of circulating warnings regarding ambient criminals.

We contacted police in Yukon (the initially named location) and Oklahoma City (the location of the Facebook poster) to verify whether such an incident had occurred or was reported on 26 May 2015. Two individuals with the Yukon police department to whom we spoke separately stated that no reports were received on 26 May 2015 (or any other time) regarding suspicious behavior of the manner described at the local Lobby store. We also spoke to a media relations representative with the Oklahoma City police department, and there the information from different sources began to diverge. The claimant stated she thought she'd been been followed by a middle-aged woman in a Hobby Lobby store, and when she reported the activity to the police she was told that it was indicative of a sex trafficking abduction; the Oklahoma City PD confirmed to us that a police report had been filed by a woman about a 'following' incident in a Hobby Lobby store there but told us there was no reason to believe whatever occurred was linked to human trafficking (information they subsequently reported to the public in a Facebook post):


Other law enforcement sources we queried also stated that the activity described in the Facebook post didn't sound like any type of abduction scheme (sex trafficking or otherwise). A "follower" would typically keep a discreet distance from the potential mark (getting just close enough to check her out before backing off and then inconspicuously hanging around), exiting the store at about the same time as the mark in order to furtively identify her to accomplices waiting outside, they said — the follower would have no reason to draw attention to herself and arouse suspicion by openly following the mark around the store.

(We spoke to a representative at Hobby Lobby's corporate offices who promised to contact us with further information about this issue, but they did not report back to us.)

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.