WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s the type of crime that often goes unseen. But for truck drivers or bus drivers, it’s something that can become a part of their every day lives.
Truckers Against Trafficking, also known as TAT, made a pit stop in Wilmington Tuesday.
With the help of TAT, a spokeswoman says in the last 11 years, more than 2,200 calls into the human trafficking hotline have come from drivers, rescuing more than a thousand victims.
“We just need to do something about this,” LuAnn Cadby said. “It’s an epidemic.”
Cadby and dozens of others reacted to what they saw at TAT’s mobile exhibit Tuesday.
“Before I went inside, I wasn’t expecting the amount of personal details that were in there,” Charlie Shotton said. “Kind of like the true stories.”
Helen Van Dam with TAT says human trafficking has become an issue truckers and drivers run into on a regular basis.
“Rest areas, truck stops, small towns, street corners, bus stops,” Van Dam said. “All of those are places you can come in contact with a potential victim.”
That’s where TAT comes in. The organization set up a mobile exhibit Tuesday in Wilmington.
The exhibit displays the stories of nine victims, along with the items found in trafficking cases.
Van Dam says truckers and drivers can be the ones to spot the signs once they know what to look for.
“Do you see a group of people? Van Dam said. “Do they look like they’re family? Do they look comfortable around each other? Is the potential victim making eye contact with anyone? Are they showing any signs of physical abuse?”
Olivia Adkins says it happens right under our noses in Wilmington.
“I think we live in a beach town and that’s what we see, Adkins said. “But because of it being a destination location, it is definitely a huge area for trafficking.”
Adkins work with A Safe Place, designed to help victims recover when they’re rescued.
For visitors like Charlie Shotton, everything he saw hit home.
“That’s exactly why it is a little touching when you hear about people as young as age 12 getting sold, because I do have a younger sister,” Shotton said. “It’s definitely going to open my eyes.”
Van Dam says millions of people young and old fall victim to trafficking world-wide.
Almost 800,000 truckers and drivers around the country are TAT-certified.
Click here to find out how you can get TAT-certified.
If you or someone you know may need help, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888.