Weekend incident raises abduction and trafficking awareness

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 4:44 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A possible, attempted abduction was reported during the weekend.

“We did take a report about an individual who had been approaching some people in the parking lot of a local business,” says Josh Miller with the Eau Claire Police Department.

On Saturday, a woman contacted police claiming a man had walked up to her and her daughter in a parking lot and was attempting to get her daughter to go with him.

“While he wasn’t necessarily doing anything illegal, it was enough to raise some concern,” Miller says. “We were able to contact that individual. We got his contact information, we know who he is, what vehicle he drives and where he is from.”

The Eau Claire Police Department is now reminding the community to be vigilant.

“Be aware of who you are talking to, obviously no one should be getting into a strange vehicle,” Miller says.

The incident has also brought up the conversation about child trafficking.

“It is important to make the distinction between trafficking and abduction,” says Cat Jacoby with Fierce Freedom, an organization that helps raise awareness about human trafficking.

Jacoby says abductions often happen in a public setting, while traffickers use a more behind the scenes approach.

“Working with over 60 victims locally, a lot of that has happened over a period of time,” Jacoby says. “We have not had anyone yet where there has been that attempt at abduction and then led to trafficking. Not to say that it never happens.”

Jacoby says child traffickers will usually target victims through social media.

“Traffickers are really using apps to groom kids, to find ways of weaknesses or vulnerability,” she says.

With kids going back to school and being online more than ever, Fierce Freedom is asking parents to have a conversation with their kids.

“Really be active in your child’s life, maybe setting up a virtual phone agreement, something that you sign together,” Jacoby says. “Making sure that you are practicing safety precautions with apps because you are definitely not safe behind a screen.”

For resources and safety tips, click here.

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