INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The Indiana Attorney General’s Office and IMPD held a human trafficking awareness event Wednesday evening ahead of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
The event took place at the Speedway United Methodist Church where attendees learned the signs of potential trafficking situations and proper ways to report it to law enforcement.
Denise Robinson, Chief Counsel of Investigations for the Attorney’s General Office, said big events like the Indy 500 bring awareness to human trafficking.
“Big events bring more awareness to the problem,” said Robinson. “I think people are willing to come out, listen, and keep their eyes open. You get more response at big events.”
Robinson said if you see something suspicious, say something.
“It happens every day in Indiana and people need to be alert continuously,” said Robinson.
Representatives and volunteers with Stopover, Inc., a nonprofit organization which provides support to victims of human trafficking were present at Wednesday’s human trafficking awareness event.
Stopover, Inc., serves as an emergency shelter and transitional housing facility for runaways, homeless and at-risk youth.
“We see that a lot, we get a lot of human trafficking youth that are kicked out or runaways,” said Courtney Modisette, the program director at Stopover, Inc.
Modisette said within the last year, the shelter has seen more than 15 human trafficking victims.
She said their latest resident affected by human trafficking never mentioned she was a victim.
“The young lady came to us, she came with one sandal, no undergarments and dirty clothes,” said Modisette. “But, what I noticed was that her nails were done, her toes were done and her hair was done, which was suspicious.”
Modisette said one of six homeless or runaway youth are currently a victim of human trafficking or have been in the past.
She said it’s crucial to know the signs of human trafficking ahead of events like the Indy 500.
“When you have big events like the Indy 500, there are predators out there and they are going to search for very vulnerable young adults, especially teenagers," said Modisette.
Stopover, Inc., serves as an emergency shelter for youth ages 12-17 and as a transitional living facility for ages 17-21. Services are completely free.
Here's a list of possible human trafficking warning signs from the Attorney General's Office:
-Unaware of surroundings
-Constantly monitored/unable to move freely
-Looks to someone else when questioned
-Refuses to speak
-Doesn't have proper identification
-Dressed older than actual age
-Traveling with a group
-Accompanied by older individual that's not a parent/sibling
-Branding/tattoo with trafficker's name
To learn more about the signs of human trafficking, click here
If you are in need of help, click here