Police do not believe viral video was human trafficking attempt

A woman's video claiming she was nearly the victim of human trafficking at the Meijer store in Mason has gone viral, with more than 360,000 views. While Police are verifying that they believe the incident happened--- they do not believe it was a case of human trafficking.

Allison VanLoon Merkle posted a video to her Facebook page Monday night, detailing what happened to her in the store earlier that day.

Merkle says she was shopping with her daughter around noon when she felt someone put a hand on her back. When she turned around, Merkle says an Indian man asked her if she celebrated Halloween.

According to Merkle, the man then started talking about fire, hell, the devil, and 'saving her daughter.' The man then put his hand on her shoulder, and told Merkle she should not be celebrating Halloween.

Finally, Merkle says she started yelling "thank you" repeatedly, just to "make a huge scene," and the man took off.

In her video, Merkle goes on to say a similar incident happened to a woman in the parking lot while she was trying to get into her car.

"Human trafficking is so so real," said Merkle. "The Mason Meijer is literally right off a highway exit. I don't want to say don't ever go to a grocery store that's right by a highway, but definitely be aware, because obviously we could have been on that highway long gone with this crazy man in two seconds and never would have ever known."

Merkle says she posted the video to make people aware that something like this can happen to anyone. "You see it on the news and on the internet but you don't think of yourself as a target."

Police say that contacting law enforcement first when you're the victim of a crime is the best thing to do.

"The sooner that crime is reported, the more likely we are to be able to gather evidence and investigate in a thorough fashion," says Lieutenant Chad Connelly, the Public Information Officer for the East Lansing Police Department.

A Detective from the Mason Police Department says Merkle came in Monday night to make a report about the incident.

The department is looking into it, but the Detective tells News 10 that even if they do find the person who approached her, he did not commit any crime. The Detective also added that based on her account, he does not believe this was a human trafficking attempt.



 
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