Police warn about human trafficking amid suspicious encounters

MORROW, OH (FOX19) - The Morrow Police Department is using social media to warn the public about human trafficking following reports of suspicious encounters.

The department shared a post on Facebook that said, "Human Trafficking is real, and it's in Warren County. Please pay attention when you're out, and talk to your children, especially the 10-15 yrs. old range."

The department included a picture of a post that someone had made about an incident at a JcPenney store in Warren County.

It stated that two men reportedly followed a young saleswoman around the store on Sunday, to the point the employee was uncomfortable and upset.

With the help of a shopper, the worker found security, but other customers claimed to have seen the same men stalking someone else in the shop.

A Warren County man, who asked to remain anonymous, said that his wife went through something similar at a different local business. A man, according to his wife, appeared to be trailing her and watching her.

"We noticed a guy was walking around the parking lot, looked like he was up to no good," the Warren County man said.

It's getting to the point where police have said they suspect the similarities between the reports are not coincidences.

They want people to stay alert, stay aware and stay vigilant because even though they haven't had any abductions, they do not know the strangers' motives. That's what prompted them to post on social media saying that human trafficking is in Warren County.

Most of the time, per the International Human Trafficking Institute, human traffickers target vulnerable young people, like runaways, addicts and those who are homeless, instead of kidnapping strangers on the street.

Police are still advising the public to be prepared for anything.

"People should take it seriously no matter what," the Warren County man said. "The society that we live in today, we don't know what people are capable of."

A spokesperson for JcPenney released a statement regarding the incident at their store, saying:

"We are aware of the disturbing incident that occurred at our Governor’s Plaza store on Sunday. Although incidents such as these are not common in our stores, we always take them very seriously. Our team is partnering with local authorities to investigate further, and we’re taking all necessary precautions to ensure associate and customer safety."

Local and state officials have said many times in recent years that different types of human trafficking are currently in Ohio. The state has a Human Trafficking Task Force.

You can learn more about human trafficking here.

If you or someone you know is or might be a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center for help at 1-888-373-7888. You can also reach out to End Slavery Cincinnati for help.

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