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5 year old wandered off at shops


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#1 knottygirl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:18 PM

While I was paying for my items in a small crowded (both with items for sale and shoppers) store. I walked round calling to her (thinking she may be hiding) then went back to the counter to tell them she was missing, and I was going to look outside, and if they found her hiding please keep her there.

They just said ok. Didn’t offer to call centre management or help me to look. When I came back after checking outside and not finding her I was frantic. I raced back to the lady and asked if they had found her. She was on the phone which I realised after I had spoken. She glared at me and said no. Then turned her back and walked away.  

I went back outside in a panic trying to remember where customer service was and who I could ask for help. After tearing round for 10 minutes I found a cleaner who I told, but then I saw her with a security guard near the original store. After she had walked out, I think she spotted some kids playing on a ride on toy thing just outside. Then when she walked back in to me she went back in to the wrong store. They contacted security and security had her.

I was so upset and shaken by the whole experience, but also by how the staff treated me.

What would others who work in retail do? I feel like they could have helped me, checking the store, contacting security, something. When I worked in a supermarket if a distraught parent came up saying they lost a child we would help look and put an announcement over the pa.

I have emailed head office of the store to complain.

This is an outdoor type shopping centre. Like a mall but without cars driving through it.

#2 seayork2002

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:22 PM

Rightly or wrongly with the amount of kids I see around shopping centers running around and without parents nearby that I can see maybe it is an hourly occurrence.

I have had panic moments myself but how many kids do they have to deal with each day that run off?

(yes I have worked in retail in previous jobs)

#3 Riotproof

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:24 PM

Oh knottygirl, how terrifying.

I think the way the store reacted was pretty crappy. Are you going to complain to their head office?

I would think at minimum that they would call centre management so they could make an announcement to their security staff.

Edited by Riotproof, 23 April 2019 - 03:25 PM.


#4 Cimbom

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:25 PM

It depends on the store and what the person's job is. When I was working in retail, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to just walk off and help look for a customer's child. If it was a manager or security type role then sure. I'm sorry you had a fright and glad that you were able to find her.

#5 literally nobody

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:28 PM

Im with you on that op. The very least they could have done was put an announcement over the speaker. Glad she was ok.

#6 Caribou

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:30 PM

That’s appalling of the retail shop. When I used to work at a retail store, our policy was when a kid looked missing or lost, approach them and asking they know where mum or dad is. More often than not, you can spot the lost kid. We either waited with them while we called security and give details. If parents hadn’t arrived within 10 mins it was off to the playground the store had and police called.

Parents who approached asking for help, it was also policy to call security and search for child. We were to basically abandon all tasks until child was found. The shop I worked at took missing children very seriously.

I’m sorry the shop did little to help. I would make a complaint to head office once all the emotions have settled. You want to make the complaint factual and clear, kids run off a lot, but there’s no need for anyone to dismiss the fact child is missing. I’m sorry you experienced this.

#7 Lady Sybil Vimes

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:34 PM

That must have been so frightening. I’m sorry you didn’t get more help.

When I lost DS1 in Kmart the service desk put out an announcement for staff to look for him while I stayed up the front of the store to make sure he couldn’t get out the doors. A lovely shopper and passing staff member spotted him a few minutes later. It’s a horrible feeling. I still feel a bit sick when I remember realising he was gone.

I know it’s easier to deploy staff in a big store but the least she could have done is phoned security for you.

#8 knottygirl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:40 PM

View PostCimbom, on 23 April 2019 - 03:25 PM, said:

It depends on the store and what the person's job is. When I was working in retail, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to just walk off and help look for a customer's child. If it was a manager or security type role then sure. I'm sorry you had a fright and glad that you were able to find her.

I meant help look in the store.

#9 born.a.girl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:41 PM

How terrifying.  Your mind goes through all sorts of things in seconds, I can't imagine 5 x minutes.

Pretty heartless not to engage with you - it's right at that moment that you need to feel you're not the only one worried, even if they are limited in what they can do.

Even just to point you in the right direction, or to call security (I'm sure they had that power) would have made it a less anxious time for you.

#10 Living Type

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:43 PM

Hmm, I think saying that she might be hiding probably lessened the severity of it in the shopkeepers eyes?

#11 molinero

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:44 PM

View Postknottygirl, on 23 April 2019 - 03:18 PM, said:


When I came back after checking outside and not finding her I was frantic. I raced back to the lady and asked if they had found her. She was on the phone which I realised after I had spoken. She glared at me and said no. Then turned her back and walked away.  


That's bloody rude.
It's also a matter of public safety.
And common human decency.

#12 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 23 April 2019 - 04:11 PM

I lost DS at a Target a couple of years ago. I went to the customer service desk and they put out a private direct to staff walkie talkie call out. 5 mins later a staff member walked him to the counter.
When I worked in a bookstore, if I had customers at the till, I wouldn't of been able to leave. However I could of called out the back and get any staff on a break, or the back office staff out to help look, however we are talking a massive store with lots of staff.

#13 No Drama Please

Posted 23 April 2019 - 04:19 PM

How terrifying. That’s worst nightmare material, not being able to find my child. You must have been beside yourself. As an adult with kids myself now yes, if I was working there, if I was walking past, I would stop whatever I was doing to help look for your child.

However to be completely honest, before I had kids, when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t even have registered. I would have thought oh yeah kids walk off and come back and whatever. Just gone about my day. I’m thinking she could have been like that. Not really understanding the dangers and how truly terrifying it can be.

#14 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 23 April 2019 - 04:38 PM

I lost my 4yo years ago (his speech was also terrible and others could not understand him). I was walking at the shops with him and 6yo DS1. DS2 darted to the other side of an iPhone repair booth in middle of walkway and when I got the the other side he was gone. Like 20 seconds out of line of sight.

Thought maybe he had dashed forwrd to AFL store (we had been talking about getting footy cards), he was not there. I then left DS1 outside store as a marker while I dahsed back from where we came and still could not find him.

So then walked into nearest store and asked them to call security as my child was missing.

They were great and called security while asking for my mobile so they could pass that onto security.

Luckily we discovered security already had DS2.

So to sum all that up yes I would expect a shop assistant if asked to call security if my child was missing.

Edited by Veritas Vinum Arte, 23 April 2019 - 04:38 PM.


#15 Overtherainbow

Posted 23 April 2019 - 04:59 PM

I understand the panic you must have felt. All the ‘what ifs’ go through your mind.

A 5 year old without special needs, should be old enough to know to stay with the parent. It may have been part of their flippant attitude.

Yes, they should have put a call out to security at a minimum. Yes, your child should not have wandered off.

#16 knottygirl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 05:30 PM

There were 3 staff in the store at the time, 2 serving at the counter and the one who was at the front of the store, she was the one who was on the phone. She was just walking round I assume restocking things and checking bags maybe.

#17 born.a.girl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 05:43 PM

View PostNo Drama Please, on 23 April 2019 - 04:19 PM, said:

How terrifying. That’s worst nightmare material, not being able to find my child. You must have been beside yourself. As an adult with kids myself now yes, if I was working there, if I was walking past, I would stop whatever I was doing to help look for your child.

However to be completely honest, before I had kids, when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t even have registered. I would have thought oh yeah kids walk off and come back and whatever. Just gone about my day. I’m thinking she could have been like that. Not really understanding the dangers and how truly terrifying it can be.


I do agree, that once you have a child yourself, you much better understand the absolute nightmare that your brain conjures for you, whereas those who haven't, probably look at the 99.99& likelihood of it all being ok within minutes and act on that basis.


There are lots of things I'd do differently as an adult who's had a child, compared with my time before (which got to 38).  Sometimes you really do need to walk a  mile in someone's shoes to understand their perspective.

That said, I'd have thought calling security to help would be part of their protocol.

#18 Lunafreya

Posted 23 April 2019 - 05:45 PM

View PostOvertherainbow, on 23 April 2019 - 04:59 PM, said:

I understand the panic you must have felt. All the ‘what ifs’ go through your mind.

A 5 year old without special needs, should be old enough to know to stay with the parent. It may have been part of their flippant attitude.

Yes, they should have put a call out to security at a minimum. Yes, your child should not have wandered off.
Um... this sort of attitude really doesn’t help.

Kids DO wander off, sometimes it’s just getting distracted by something and don’t realise that they’re no longer with mum. And then there’s the truly scary stories that I won’t mention here.

If I was a customer, I wouldn’t mind the staff dropping everything to look for a missing child. The more, the faster the child is found. I’ve been that missing child and had one of my sisters be that.

#19 knottygirl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:05 PM

View PostLunafreya, on 23 April 2019 - 05:45 PM, said:


Um... this sort of attitude really doesn’t help.

Kids DO wander off, sometimes it’s just getting distracted by something and don’t realise that they’re no longer with mum. And then there’s the truly scary stories that I won’t mention here.

If I was a customer, I wouldn’t mind the staff dropping everything to look for a missing child. The more, the faster the child is found. I’ve been that missing child and had one of my sisters be that.

I feel the same. If I was a customer I would want to help look.

#20 SeaPrincess

Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:11 PM

View Postknottygirl, on 23 April 2019 - 03:18 PM, said:

What would others who work in retail do? I feel like they could have helped me, checking the store, contacting security, something. When I worked in a supermarket if a distraught parent came up saying they lost a child we would help look and put an announcement over the pa.

When I worked in retail, I couldn’t have done much more than help look in the store. We didn’t have Centre management/security and we didn’t have a PA in our relatively small stores. Genuine customers wouldn’t mind staff helping and would likely help too, but it’s also the sort of scenario that professional shoplifters used in our stores to distract shop staff, so I’d likely only have freed up one staff member to assist.

#21 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:22 PM

When then 3yo DD decided it would be most amusing to hide from me in the clothes racks at target, I was so grateful for the two women who stopped to help look for her. It was the longest 3 minutes ever.

I was at a park recently where a small child went missing. I was surprised at the number of people who didn’t help look. I went straight to look in the ponds - luckily the child wasn’t in there, but he was spotted in almost as dangerous a spot. It was scary.

#22 laridae

Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:44 PM

I've lost DD2 (4yo) a few times now. She's got a bit of a habit of running off or hiding. Most of the time I can find her, but twice recently I've had to ask the store for help. Both times it was Woolies and they've put an announcement over the PA as well as getting staff to help look for her. First time she was found in the icecream section. We'd been in the fruit and veg section which was the other end of the store. Second time was when I was standing at the checkout, she'd gone up the escalator to the exit to the car park, and luckily some nice person walked her down the other escalator back down in to the shop (20m or so through the car park). The car park is on top of the store and one side has the down escalator and the other has the up escalator so you can't get back down without walking through the carpark. I didn't know she'd gone up there though - I thought she'd gone back into the store.

#23 Future-self

Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:18 PM

Offering to call security should have been standard practice without them even thinking about it. No skin off their nose, takes 30 seconds and should be part of security staff training as well as new staff induction in each store.

Losing them is horrendous. DS was officilaly a misisng child with the police for 10 mins when he was 5 - missing for 40 mins all up -  and even thinking about it now makes me feel nauseous. Go easy on yourself

#24 Mollycoddle

Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:22 PM

Can't help but laugh at all these stories at kids going missing, not at the poor parents (it would be horrific) but at the idea that running off would be a fun thing to do lol. I was a very timid child and I very distinctly remember watching a TV show as a kid where a few kids stayed behind and were locked in a department store overnight. They had great fun eating whatever, playing in the toy section and sleeping in a tent in a camping display. I would have been absolutely traumatised if that happened to me as a child!

#25 knottygirl

Posted 23 April 2019 - 08:18 PM

View PostSeaPrincess, on 23 April 2019 - 06:11 PM, said:



When I worked in retail, I couldn’t have done much more than help look in the store. We didn’t have Centre management/security and we didn’t have a PA in our relatively small stores. Genuine customers wouldn’t mind staff helping and would likely help too, but it’s also the sort of scenario that professional shoplifters used in our stores to distract shop staff, so I’d likely only have freed up one staff member to assist.

This is a big major shopping mall they have security in the centre and also centre management.

I’m not 100% sure how it happened but after she walked in to the wrong store and told someone (I think the staff member) that she was lost security was alerted. Whether security happened to be walking past or whether that shop had some way of contacting security I don’t know. But I would assume that there wouldn’t be much point in having shopping centre security if the retailers don’t have any way to get in touch with them if there is an issue.

I think I probably should have just called the police once I realised that she was definitely missing.




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