Kidnapping is a crime. It’s not incredibly common, but it’s traumatic nonetheless. While parents and schools do their best to arm children against “stranger danger,” the treat of getting plucked from one’s familiar surroundings and thrown into the abyss follows people into adulthood. And, even more chillingly, oftentimes, it is no “stranger” doing the abducting. When Reddit asked people to share their close encounters with abduction, parents showed up as culprits more than we would have liked. Check the locks and shudder to these 42 stories from people who were also kidnapped.
I was led out of the play park by some shady dude who said my mom sent him to pick me up. I went along until the dude discreetly pulled out a switchblade, which is when I realized something was very, very wrong. To get away, I remembered what my teachers had taught me and ran towards the nearest woman while screaming "mommy!" That dude bolted.
I learned very recently (I'm 30) that when I was a baby, my mom and my grandma were at a nail salon. A random woman took me from my grandmother and left. My mom, who was getting her nails done ran after her and grabbed me back. The lady made some excuse and ran away. My dad has no idea because my mom was afraid to tell him.
I had a neighbor who was obsessed with my little sister after she was born. The lady was new to the block and tried to be super nice and sweet to my parents, so she could come over and see my sister. After a few times, she started waiting till my parents left and would walk over and ask to see her. I started telling her that my sister left with my parents.
It got super creepy to the point where I thought she was going to try and take her.
I was 14 or 15 and walking alone during the day by myself. I was in a neighborhood I was familiar with but didn't live in. This red car pulled next to me and the driver kept asking if I needed a ride. I said "no" multiple times and sped up my pace, but he kept driving next to me asking. Eventually, he pulled over in front of me and asked again.
I was near my friend's house and ran to his house. He wasn't home, and I never knew his mom, but I pounded on his door like the police or something as the car crept by. His mom opened the door and I guess she gleaned what was going on, and let me in. I made awkward small talk with this woman for a minute or two and she drove me where I was headed. My friend said that I woke his mom up and that she'd had a night shift that night. Even so, she was grateful that she got up. Thanks, Mrs. Friend's Mom.
After my parents divorced, my dad moved abroad. He came back for a week-long visit for a week and took me and my sister out on day trips, shopping, and to the park, all normal stuff. Or so we thought. Then he took us to the ferry port. That was about when I clued in. I panicked, grabbed hold of my sister, and started yelling "He's trying to take us away!"
Security came running and my dad took a swing at them and got piled on. I've wondered a lot of times what would have happened if he'd stayed calm and just said, "They're my kids and they're just acting up," because we were legitimately on his passport at the time.
I grew up in a well-off neighborhood with a tight-knit community and a somewhat overbearing local police force. I was at the local park with family and friends one afternoon. I was probably 10 years old. Some kids set off one of those model rockets, it blasted high into the air and ended up behind a house next to the park.
Being a kid, I run after the rocket. When I leave the boundaries of the park, I notice an old beat-up Dodge van in the parking lot. Some shady dude rolls his window down and tries to convince me to get into his van. He said that he saw where the rocket landed and would take me to find it. I promptly ran away and told my dad.
He and his friends stormed over there to see what this shady guy was doing. The dude peeled out, and we all looked at it as a close call. Later that night, a police officer came to my house because someone had reported him. They ran his plates from the city camera at the park. When his record came up, my blood ran cold.
This dude was from a small-town that was hours away from mine. He was a registered offender, and the cop told me I did the right thing by running away. If I had gotten into the van I’m sure he would’ve driven away with me and who knows what would’ve happened.
In second grade we had a concert where various kids sang. I was picked to study and sing “Silent Night” in German. I did well and was waiting outside the gym for my mom when a woman came up. She started saying how I did such a great job, while she put her arm around my shoulder and started walking me toward the entrance. Luckily my mom saw, ran up, flipped out on this lady and grabbed me away.
The woman took off and I don’t know if anything ever happened to her. Also, I can still sing some of “Silent Night” in German.
A large group of men attempted to spike me and my friend’s drink in a nightclub, so we left. We went to a chip shop thinking we got away from them. We were so, so wrong. After we got served and turned around, they were outside the shop waiting for us. We ran, and they chased us. I don’t know how we managed to escape. A mixture of high cardio fitness, adrenaline, and really good luck.
When I was 10, I wanted to make some money during the summer, so I decided to sell popsicles from door to door. One day, a middle-aged man decided he wanted to buy all of them, every single one in my cooler. I was pleasantly surprised. He said he wanted me to put them in his freezer myself, so I did. Nothing happened, he didn't try anything, but he told me to come back when I had more and that he'd do the same and buy them all again.
I told my parents that night and they told me to not go near that house again, I never understood why until a few years ago, it gives me chills. He was probably planning on assaulting me more than kidnapping me, but either way, it wasn't good.
My friend and I were walking on our way back from a ski resort's snack shack. On the way back though, we rolled coke bottles down a hill and just messed about. To put in perspective, we were in eighth grade. We should've known better but we were still pretty young.
A guy in a truck stops us and asks if we would like to help him out moving cabinets in his condo. He said we would get paid. My friend instantly agrees since he wanted the money. I get in reluctantly and head over too. I am glad we still had to drop off stuff from the shack for my mom because I don’t want to know how it would have gone down the other way. We dropped the off the stuff and immediately bolt out of the door. I tell my sister what we were doing before we leave, thank goodness.
So now we are back in the guy’s truck heading down the road to his place. As soon as I step out of the truck, my mom calls me and says “what are you doing” I explain it the way he told me, you know just moving cabinets in this guy’s place since he’s selling the condo or something. She immediately tells me to get my friend and run. But my mom didn't realize the worst part.
My friend is already inside while I’m not. I tell him what’s going on and to be fair to the guy, it did look like cabinets needed to be moved. But I tell my friend my mom wants us back now. The guy kinda pesters us about leaving, but eventually we do, and this is when I finally get it and start booking it back home. My friends following me but still doesn’t get it.
After we get back to our condo my mom decides to go tell the resort’s police about this incident. She swears the whole way down there the guy was tailgating her, freaking her out, and disappeared as soon as she got to the police station. Nothing ever came from it after the fact but the funniest part (now, of course) is my friend, later that night, finally understood what nearly happened. He looks over at me before we fall asleep and says “Did we almost get assaulted?” Yes, yes we almost did.
I was walking home from school a few years ago with my friend and my sister. There was a creepy old man who started talking to us. He then asked me where I lived so instantly I just said I don’t know. He kept trying to get anything by me by saying the close by villages, but I kept saying I don’t know. We walked off round the corner and bolted it the long way home. I was 14, sister was 12 and friend was 11. Intense times.
My GPS crashed, and I pulled into a parking lot to fix it. Guy knocks on my window asking for directions. I space out thinking of the directions and when I look back at my window, I can't believe my eyes. The guy is pointing a gun at me. Makes me drive to take out money since I didn’t carry cash. Then his “getaway” bailed, so I drove him to a random location across town while being held at gunpoint.
I didn’t realize I was even kidnapped until I talked to the police later. They said he had so many charges on him they could’ve chased him to the end of state lines. Never caught him though.
My parents often lived in foreign countries when my brother was very young. One day my mom was jogging along a walkway near the beach and my brother was beside her on his tricycle. Two men came up to them. One grabbed my brother and tried to run while the other grabbed my mom.
However, they didn't know not to mess with my mom. She was a very active black belt at the time. She broke the guy’s nose and pushed him over a wall near the walkway. The guy that grabbed my brother didn’t get too far because my brother was so frightened that he held onto his bike. He saw what happened to the other guy, dropped my brother, and ran. It’s why I took karate in college.
It was Halloween and I went to a friend’s party. I was pretty drunk but walked a cute girl out when she decided to call it a night. As I walked back to the party, with nobody in the front, a car with three men pulled up. They had on luchador wrestling masks. They asked me "where the party was." I walked over to them and the gentleman in the back gets out.
I thought they were there for the party, mind you, I was drunk. Um, nope. He pulls a gun and puts it to my head and tells me to get in. They took me up the street, beat the snot out of me, and took my wallet, keys, and phone (that's all I had). Then they left. I actually thought I was dead.
When I was in sixth grade, I was a latchkey kid who walked home from school. One day, I forgot my house key and found myself locked out and very bored. I sat on the curb across the street dragging a stick across a metal sewer grate because it made a fun melodic clanging noise. I slowly became aware that there was a silver hatchback idling on the side of the road with two people in it. Then I noticed they were looking at me. Staring at me.
I started to get freaked out. I got up and walked toward my house, which was a townhouse at the top of an inclined driveway that we shared with our neighbors. Between the front door and the driveway was a fenced-in area where the trash cans went. The silver hatchback followed me up the driveway. I’m not sure what my plan was exactly, but I ran up to the alcove where the front door was and pressed myself up against the wall. I was obscured from the driveway by the trash can fence.
I heard the car reach the top of the driveway and I heard the doors open. A man’s voice said “Damn, the kid got away.” They got back in the car and left. When my parents got home, I couldn’t wait to tell them, but I don’t think they believed me. My dad said that if they were really trying to get me, they would’ve followed me to the door instead of given up on the driveway, which makes some sense. I don’t know if they were just trying to mess with me or what, but it definitely happened and scared the heck out of me at seven years old.
I got the sense that a guy was following me around the produce section of a grocery store, so I left that section. I ran into him again at the far end of the store. He proceeded to follow me through three looping, random circuits of the store, all while never putting a single item in his cart. He only seemed to leave when I stopped to speak with a stocker about him. The stocker walked me to my car, but I took a circuitous route home just to make sure that I wasn’t being followed.
I was walking home from school when I was 15. It was unseasonably warm for February. A blond man with a beard in a red car drives by and honks at me. I thought it was just a moron catcalling a high school student and ignored him. A few minutes later, he drives by again. But this time, he pulls up against the side of the road and tries to get me to come to the car.
I didn’t understand what he wanted but something about him gave me the creeps, so I waved at him and kept walking and he drives off. Again, he drives by me and I realize that he was circling the block. He keeps doing this stuff until he finally turns, looks at me, and gives me this creepy smile. It haunts me, even now, almost 10 years later.
Then he pulls off the road I was about to turn down. I realize he is stalking me now. I take off running in another direction, dodging oncoming traffic, and turn down another street. I jump in a patch of bushes and start to dig through my bag. I miraculously manage to find my phone, and called my mum. While I am waiting for her to come and pick me up, I see him drive by again one more time. He must have been circling the block again, looking for me.
To this day, I still have an irrational fear of men with beards.
I was walking home from school one afternoon when a guy flagged me down on the sidewalk. He said he needed help lifting a heavy box onto his cargo van. I stopped to pick it up and found it was probably like five pounds. That was strike one. Then he asked if I could please enter his van, put it on a seat, and strap it down.
That was strike two. I came to my senses and found the whole thing sketchy. As I was about to run from the van, he tried to hold me and throw me back. Thankfully, I didn't stop fighting and managed to run away as fast as I can. Looking back at it, I was extremely stupid to even get inside his van.
When I was about seven, I was on holiday with my parents. We were out for dinner. I nipped outside for some fresh air because it was really warm, and a group of older children and teens started talking to me. They became very insistent that I follow them down the road to a nearby caravan park. I didn't like how pushy they were being, so I retreated back inside, and the group wandered off.
My folks had been watching through the window and asked who my new friends were. I just shrugged and told them what happened. I got a bit freaked out by how alarmed my mum was and didn't really understand her concern until many years later. Of course, the kids may have been entirely innocent, but it still seems a bit...odd.
When I was four, my mom was going to work and my aunt, who was 16 at the time, was supposed to watch me with her boyfriend. So as my mom left, I'm crying and saying I want to be with her. When her car pulls away, I run outside. The front door is right next to the couch where my aunt and her boyfriend are sitting. I walk out the door and down to the road, then down an alley.
An old lady sees me and starts walking me to her house. My mom comes back because she forgot something. She finds out I'm not home because she doesn't hear me. She freaks out and they all start looking for me around the house, then outside because the door was open. So they are looking and the old lady is walking me into her house.
She's seconds from opening her door. My aunt's boyfriend sees me and yells at her, running towards me. He grabs me and takes me home. No one knows who she was or what could have happened.
One Sunday, my sister was coming out of the grocery store after parking her car in one of the front rows. As you can imagine, the grocery store was pretty packed. During this time my sister’s driver side door didn’t open from the outside. So after putting her groceries in the truck, she proceeded to climb into her car from the passenger side (she did this all the time because the handle on the other side was busted). A man saw her do this and took the opportunity to slide into the passenger seat beside her and close the door.
Once he shut the door he pulled out a knife and put it to her throat and told her to drive the car. The man didn’t realize (thankfully) that her door opened from the inside. She opened the door and made a run for it. When she told me this story, she told me and I quote, “it was either run and get help or drive and probably die, I took my chance.”
After running and screaming for help, the man jumped out of the car and a man whom I will always be thankful for, tackled the would-be abductor. He was charged with attempted kidnapping.
This memory still makes me shudder. I was on the last train home sitting in an empty carriage. Big bald dude gets on and just started gunning it towards me. I was further down enough that I just booted out the door nearest to me (train was waiting to leave as it was the last stop on the line). I hid behind some standing billboards that separated the platform.
The guy gets out, looks around, and marches into the next carriage. Clearly, he's still looking for me. I see him look through the next three carriages. I don't want to know what would have happened if I hadn't hid quickly enough.
When I was 14, I was waiting on a lift (elevator) to go up to my friend's flat (apartment) on the fifth floor. It was taking a long time. This guy came into the building and stood beside me to wait. He seemed normal enough, but I got a really bad vibe from him. I could feel him watching me. I got so uncomfortable waiting there that I eventually went to the stairwell.
I ran up the stairs and after a moment I heard the door slam open and someone running up them also. When I glanced down I saw he was chasing me and staring up at me. I am thankful that I was very athletic back then as that likely saved my life. I got to my friend's flat and pounded on the door, crying and begging her to let me in. Her older brother heard me tell her what happened. He ran out to find the guy but he was gone.
A few notes, I was tiny and looked young for my age I was lucky if I was even five feet and could pass for 11. Also the elevator is right next to huge glass windows and the lock on the building was broken so I’m not sure if he actually lived in the building or saw me and came in.
I opened the front door of my house when I was home alone. A guy immediately started running up to the door. I slammed it and locked it as fast as I could. I had to be at least 11 or 12.
When I was around five years old, my sister and I would often go traveling with our grandparents during our summer breaks. We were riding a tram down the mountain after a bit of sight-seeing when a middle-aged couple sparked up a conversation with my grandparents. They told them that I was an adorable child.
Jokingly (obviously) my grandparents asked them if they wanted to take me off their hands to which their response was ‘Yes please, we’ll even pay you!’ My grandparents kind of shrugged it off as a joke until the couple started asking personal questions like what our address was, what hotel we were staying at, what my grandparent’s last name was, etc.
By that time the tram ride was over, and my grandparents bee-lined our way toward the car making sure to keep a good grip on my sister and I. 20-30 minutes later, we made it back to the hotel only to find that the couple had followed us. My grandfather approached them and threatened them with calling the police. They then turned around and we never saw them again...
One of my exes locked me in the bathroom by literally putting four-inch screws into the door after she found out I was going to move out and dump her. Took almost four hours for her landlord to actually get tired of listening to me yell out the window for help before he came up and found me...Thanks.
I was followed by a white van as a child walking to the bus stop. It was going the same speed as I was, and I was just walking (so, like, weirdly slow). Then it got even weirder. Whenever I stopped, it stopped too. I turned around and went to the next closest bus stop and it sped off. Terrified me so much. I never told my parents.
My roommate and I used to walk to parties in college. Our usual spot was about a mile down a somewhat busy residential street. We didn’t usually run into trouble, but one night we noticed a red car was following us. It drove past once and we didn’t think much of it. When it drove by a second time, we got creeped out. As soon as the car was out of sight we high-tailed it into some thick bushes and waited for about five minutes to see if the coast was clear.
Finally, the car came around a third time, very slowly, looking for us. When it turned a corner again we booked it into the alleyways and ran full-speed in heels for the last half-mile to our friend’s house. We called them on the way as we were sprinting pleading them to meet us halfway in case the car came back for us. Super scary to think what could have happened.
Back in the eighties, there were some woods at the end of our street. I was about seven at the time and was playing tag with some other neighbor kids. About five high school kids dressed up as ninjas (again, this was the 80s) jumped out of nowhere and grabbed me. My brother took off running and got my dad and neighbor.
In the meantime, the ninjas carried me off and tied me to a tree. They had B.B. guns, nunchucks and throwing stars and we’re threatening me with them for a while. Eventually my dad, neighbor, and others found us. Chased the ninjas off and untied me. I’m sure they weren’t trying to kidnap me or anything, but still traumatic and whatnot.
It was 1991. At that time, kids went home when the street lights came on. I was five. It was dusk. I was alone making my way home. A man pulled up and slowed to my pace, asking where I was going and if I wanted to go with him. He encouraged me to get in his car. I didn't really acknowledge him, stop, or look his way. I just said no because I was hungry, and my mom was making dinner. He drove away.
I never thought about it until I was maybe 30 years old and out of nowhere a flash of memory filled my brain. "Holy moly, I was almost kidnapped!" I'll never know why he didn't push me further, but I will always appreciate my priorities being in order—mac and cheese first, kidnap later.
My birth mother and father were drug addicts. After starving and beating two toddlers and two infants, CPS finally got involved. They went to our foster parents’ house and kidnapped us. They then took us to Longview, WA to a half-way house. That's where we lived from then on. But it was too late. At the house, they abused my twin. Later on, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. But our foster parents suspected she had it earlier. She died last month from epilepsy.
My father took me for a custody weekend when I was a little kid. He ended up taking me way into the Rocky Mountains and dropping me off with his parents. Mom was looking for me for a good two weeks, cops at the time were pretty useless because it was a "family matter." Uh, aren't most kidnappings statistically done by people who know the victim?
I lived with my aunt and uncle when my parents divorced. They raised my sister and me because my mom was gay (it was the draconian 70s) and my dad had substance abuse issues. My mom kidnapped us and took us to Washington state from Vegas, then one day we were at the school bus stop alone. We were terrified of getting in trouble.
A few weeks later, my dad kidnapped us while we were trick-or-treating with a bunch of kids. After that, we lived with him in California. We were upset because we wanted to stay with mom. Three weeks later he took us back to my aunt and uncle. We didn’t understand why he didn’t want us. We were 10 and 8. I’m 51 years old and I still have abandonment and trust issues.
When I was a kid, my dad had substance issues and was in and out of jail. Nowadays, he's wanted in my state for attempted murder and evasion of child support. So, you know, a lot of development there. Anyway, he kidnapped me when I was a kid. But he did it for an especially awful reason. He didn't actually want me. He just wanted to make my mom miserable.
I remember eating candy. I also remember sitting in a dark room playing with those off-brand Legos while my dad did drugs in the other room. I distinctly remember the smell of weed during that time. My last memory of the whole ordeal is playing in a park and burning my elbow on a metal slide. My dad had left briefly to "go to the bathroom" and when I couldn’t find him, I started crying. I was one of those kids who would SCREAM. So there I was crying and couldn't find him.
Eventually, I was found by someone in scrubs. I don't remember much other than a cop carrying me to my crying mom. By then my dad had fled the state.
My friend's husband surfs and the best waves are in a beach uptown near some favelas, so he has loads of local friends (he is a rich dude). They were getting home late at night when one car pulled in front of them. Two guys with guns entered their car and the other car followed them. So they are zig-zagging through the city, looking for an ATM. They grabbed their cellphones, her jewelry, and were planning on heading back to their place to rob them.
They parked in a dark street and the leader, who was in the other car, comes to their window to talk to the two robbers in their car. As he is talking, my friend’s husband (the surfer) glances at him. His jaw hits the floor. He recognizes the robber from the beach. He panics and tries to look away, so the guy won’t notice it is him (he was afraid they would kill them since they could tell police who he was). The guy notices him. “John? Is that you??? OMG John, I didn’t know it was you!!! I’m so sorry, dude. Jesus, John, why didn’t you tell me? Peter, hey, Peter, it is John!!!”
Peter, another surfer, who was also in the second car, comes to the window. “John??? Dude! What a coincidence!!! Hey, guys, give them all back! The earrings as well! Sorry, John, we really didn’t know it was you.” John never surfed again at that beach.
When I was three, my family went to beach. I wandered off just a little but I guess it didn’t really look like I was with anyone. My grandpa was looking around and saw a guy digging through a trash can. The guy eventually grabbed a McDonald’s bag. Then he started walking towards me. My grandpa ran up next to me and he bolted back to his van that was already opened with his friend inside.
When I was in first grade, my older brother and I would walk to our babysitter's house after school. One day as we were walking, I realized I forgot my lunchbox on the playground. My brother didn't want to walk back with me to get it. So I went by myself. On the way back to catch up with my brother, a woman in a gray car pulled up near me. She told me that she was a friend of my mom and that my mom had sent her to get me.
When I wouldn't come closer, she leaned over and opened the passenger side door. That's when I started running. The woman just peeled away as fast as she could. But that's not even the freakiest part. There was another kid, about my age, in the backseat. I remember she wasn't crying, but she looked scared.
When I was about three years old, we lived in Malaysia. Like a lot of Westerners, I had a maid that also served as a nanny. For a while, she told my parents that it would be best that I grew up to become a monk. They never took it seriously, until one day when they came home. The maid had finally gone way, way too far.
She packed a bag with basically all my clothes and possessions that I would need and sat me in the car. She planned on taking me to this monastery quite far away. She genuinely thought it was the best thing for me, and that my parents would agree.
After my first big break up, I thought I'd still be friendly with our mutual friends. So when my ex's best friend called me in the middle of the night, distraught that his girlfriend had broken up with him, I didn't question it. I left my house around midnight, walked to the closed convenience store a couple of blocks away (without telling my parents, of course), to meet up with him so I could be a shoulder to cry on.
When I get there, he acted super strange. Not distraught, but stressed. Also trying to come onto me. Constantly checking his watch and his phone. Phone rings, he gets this wide-eyed look, says he has to go, and runs off into the night. I go home with a really weird feeling. Turns out, my ex was a few blocks away in his car. He had a terrible plan.
The plan was to kidnap me, assault me, kill me, and dump my body. My ex had a panic attack and thus missed the time slot to drive by for them to grab me and stuff me into the car. I got a call from the hospital saying my ex was asking for me, as he called 9-1-1, thinking he was having a heart attack.
(Yes, I have a life-long protection order now and no, I'm not that dumb/naive anymore.)
I was working for a vet clinic when I was about 16. A man came in a rush explaining there were some dogs across the street that needed help. I followed him across the street. He offered to give me a ride in his truck to get us there faster. I declined and jogged over to where I heard the dogs barking. When I saw what was happening, my blood ran cold.
I found the dogs just simply barking in a fenced area. Absolutely nothing was wrong with them. The guy immediately drove off. It took me a second to realize what just happened. He was trying to abduct someone that day.
My parents divorced when I was two. Somewhere near my third birthday, my life changed forever. One day, my dad showed up at our front door and my parents had a really loud, terrible argument. I was standing next to my mom, crying, in the doorway. My dad snatched me and took me to his house, five hours away.
I can remember crying in the car and asking my dad, over and over, where we were going and telling him I missed my mommy. I don't remember anything about the week or so I was there. One day, I was playing in the front yard and this lady I didn't recognize came up and was calling me toward the front fence. I vaguely remember this—super fuzzy. But I do recall finally realizing it was my mom. That's all I remember.
Apparently, he took me to his house and my mom didn't know where he lived. It took a lot of investigation for her to find me. Mind you, she was in her early twenties and there was no Internet. There were also some negotiations prior to this between my dad and my mom's parents that failed.
Interestingly, my mom and dad are very friendly now. They even stayed in the same house with spouses for a family event that brought everyone to my town. They were young kids when they had me and my dad was an idiot on drugs. So much has changed over the years so it's a happy ending. But it was a really awful situation at the time.
I grew up in a pretty weird household since my dad was an alcoholic for most of my childhood. Because of that, it wasn't too unheard of for me to get picked up after school and brought to the bar for a while until my mom got home. One day, I was playing Centipede and some guy seated next to the machine started talking to me about go-carts and mini bikes etc. Stuff that would interest a kid around eight years old.
Eventually, the guy worked up the nerve and asked me for my address. He said he'd take me wherever to ride these go-carts and whatever. Not knowing any better, I went and asked my dad for paper to write down my address. Luckily, dad wasn't having any of it. There was a confrontation and several other patrons joined in the resulting beatdown.
Two things I learned that day 1) you can't trust everybody and 2) my dad was capable of intense violence. Up until that point I just looked at my dad as a happy old drunk. He was never belligerent or violent at home, always composed and content. I've never forgotten how close I was to the unimaginable.
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