“We had found a very kid-friendly activity involving kinetic sand and our children loved it, as did a number of other children in the area. They had been playing for only a couple of minutes when this woman came right up to that particular area in the room and started playing in the sand box with the children, smiling and laughing with them. Then, she took out her phone and started taking pictures again – not of the exhibit, but of the children. My children and other people’s children. It was too much. We had been followed and their behavior was way beyond the ordinary, and it fit the profile of a human trafficking team: usually a man and a woman; tries to relate well and interact with children; takes pictures; tries to get the children to interact with them and feel comfortable. I had to report it.”
Pilch reported the duo to museum staff, who he says took it quite seriously. “The head of security was all over it instantly,” he says. “As soon as I related all the signs to him he immediately agreed that it was suspect and bore the telltale signs of trafficking. I was able to point out both the woman and the man to them, who were beating a hasty retreat when they saw me talking with security and museum management. Security went after them and we never saw them anywhere else in the museum for the rest of the day.”
Pilch wants parents to know that human traffickers are sneaky and will even take the opportunity to find victims in an expensive, upscale museum like the one they were in. “After all, if they came in and were able to find just one child to kidnap and sell into slavery or the sex trade, that would fetch far above the price of admission for the day,” he says.
After he got home, he found a couple of photos that he’d taken that captured the woman in question’s odd behavior. He urges parents to look at these photos, read his article, and do their own research to know the signs of suspicious behavior!
“One can see clearly where her focus is and her demeanor,” he says of the photographs. “She is looking straight at our children, not at her phone or the exhibit, and giving them a huge, inviting smile. I can’t imagine the horror of missing one of my children right now. Instead I am blessed to be able to hug each of my children tonight and kiss them and tell them I love them. If you have never heard of human trafficking, it’s time to get educated so that hopefully you and your friends can also hug and kiss your own children each night.”