I had a little incident while out holiday shopping this week. I was shopping in Home Goods in the town where I live, and I became very aware of a young man following me around in the store. At one point, I said, “excuse me” to get by him.

I had my purse in the shopping cart where kids sit, and I really thought he was watching for me to turn my back so he could steal my purse. I walked away from him again and again.

I finally got in the checkout line, with my purse firmly on my arm, when I saw him walk out the entrance, but he watching me the entire way out, we made eye contact.

Ten minutes later, I pulled my car to the front of the store, I needed help loading something big into the back of it. We loaded it up, and I took off for home.

Thirty minutes later I was back in front of my computer working. Up pops a Facebook notification from the SAME guy that was following me in the store, liking my business Facebook Page, and a minute later there was a friend request from him on my personal page. WTH?

How did he know my name? How did he find me? What did he want? Then he sent me an inappropriate message to my business page.

img_3634He said he found me because he was watching me from the parking lot, and that he typed in: Australian Cattle Dog + the town of the store into the Facebook search bar, and up popped my name and pictures of my dogs, and then he clicked on my name and saw my profile picture, and he knew it was me.

On the back of my car I have a sticker that says, I ♥ My Australian Cattle Dog.

This had me completely freaked out for a few minutes. Did he follow me into the store? How long had he been following me? Has he followed me before? He has my name, if he googled me he easily could get my home address since I work from home and my business phone number.

First Lesson:

Who would think something so innocent as, I ♥ My Australian Cattle Dog, could help someone find me? An ex-police friend of mine told me to remove the sticker from my car. If you are fearful of something happening to you like this, don’t put anything personal on your car. As a small business owner, I think those magnetic signs are great, and I can’t tell you how many times, I have called someone because I saw their car. Now I feel like I have to warn people about them.

Second Lesson:

Just be aware of your surroundings all the time. I was never, ever afraid of someone having my home address. It’s not like a client would come knocking on my door. My address is on my business cards, and was on my website, and on the bottom of my newsletter, as it is a requirement to have a physical street address on them. I have always advocated people putting their address on their cards, numerous times, I want to mail something, and there is no address. I now will give those people a pass.

I always keep my doors locked when I am at home mostly so my dogs can’t get out accidently. My office faces the road in front of my house, so I can see when someone comes to my door.

And I recommend having a dog, a big dog, not a “purse” dog. I am 100% certain should someone get into my house, they won’t make it past my dogs to get to me.

Third Lesson:

Call the police if someone contacts you via social media and is inappropriate with you. I had an officer come out and take a police report. And while no crime had been committed, there was a report in case something did happen, they would have his name, his photo, a list of his friends, and the town he lives in.

While the police where here he kept messaging with, not vulgar, but things you shouldn’t be saying to a woman you do not know. And I responded with exactly what the police told me to say, “I have the police here right now filing a police report. Stop messaging me, or I will be filing criminal charges.”

He immediately said he will leave me alone, and blocked me from seeing him. Of course the officer and I, had already taken all of the information we needed from his page, and his picture.

I was scared, and I spent the rest of this week looking over my shoulder, and I took my home address off of my website, but it’s out there and I’m OK with it. I won’t be removing the sticker from my car because it makes me happy, I won’t be changing my phone number, because everyone I know has it, I won’t be removing it from my business cards and I won’t be a victim either, because I am a trained, licensed conceal carry gun owner.

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