“I don’t understand how something like this can happen,” the girl’s mother, Lena Norman, told TV4 news.
Lena, her husband Rickard, and their 4-year-old daughter Wilma had taken a trip to the popular discount furniture retailer for a day of shopping.
Upon arriving at the Ikea, the Norman’s checked Wilma into the store’s Småland play area, a common practice among Swedish families hoping to make their shopping trip run a bit more efficiently.
“We got a stamp with a number on our wrist, and Wilma got the same number stamped on her hand,” Lena told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
After making their way through the store, Lena and Rickard returned to the play area to pick up Wilma only to discover in horror that she wasn’t there.
“We couldn’t see her anywhere. We thought she was in the toilet, and several went to look. The staff showed me check in sheet and Wilma’s name has been crossed off, like the note looks when they’ve checked out a child,” mother Lena told TV4.
Panic-stricken, the parents widened their search beyond the Småland play area and began looking for Wilma elsewhere in the massive store.
Finally, they found Wilma standing pacing in the store’s entryway, just outside the play area. Her lower lip quivering, she was clutching a drawing she had made for her parents during her time in the play area.
When she finally saw her parents, she burst into tears.
“We broke down too,” Lena told Aftonbladet.
Reunited with their daughter and overjoyed, Wilma’s parents attempted to learn from their daughter what happened.
“She’s told us that someone said to her, ‘Come Wilma, your mom and dad are here’, but no one was there to pick her up,” said Lena.
The parents now believe that Wilma was checked out to another family by mistake who then didn’t realise that the 4-year-old had been released to them, leaving Wilma alone outside the play area.
“Just think if she had wandered off, if she hadn’t been standing there waiting. No one knows either how long she was waiting there,” Lena told TV4.
The store’s duty manager, Veronica Eriksson told TV4 that the incident is under investigation.
“This can’t happen. Something went wrong in the release of the child and we’re now looking into exactly what happened,” she said.