The San Luis Obispo Police Department has released surveillance video of the woman they say tried to lure a 3-year-old boy out of Target on Tuesday.
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the woman, who was wearing a purple sweater and glasses. She allegedly grabbed the boy’s hand and tried to take him out of the store.
The boy’s father was no more than five feet away from the child at the time.
"He immediately confronted her and she mumbled something back – he said it was kind of unintelligible – and she let go of the son’s hand and walked out of Target," said SLO PD Captain Jeff Smith.
Officers got reports of the attempted kidnapping at approximately 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.
"I hope they find whomever so it won’t happen again, she won’t be able to prey on other little babies," said Target shopper Harriett Vandegrift of Atascadero.
Police are looking through surveillance video to try to identify the woman or any vehicle in the parking lot that she may have driven away.
"It’s really scary. As, obviously, a mother of two small children, they mean more to you than anything in the world, so the thought that she is out there is really scary," said Stacie Kenny of San Luis Obispo.
"We don’t want to raise false alarms but it’s also good to be very aware of wherever your children are, stay close by, have good ground rules of proximity and just be aware if strangers approach, then what they can do," Captain Smith said.
Police are treating the incident as an attempted kidnapping for now but are investigating to see if the woman could have had a mental illness and just acted inappropriately.
Anyone with information on the incident or the woman pictured is asked to call investigators at (805) 594-8067.