Human sex traffickers are becoming more creatively discrete with tracking methods. Tallahassee residents are starting to worry that their community may be facing a repeated issue.
In 2020, the Tallahassee Police Department closed the biggest commercial sex trafficking investigation in Tallahassee’s history. The exploitation of a teenage girl led to more than 170 people being arrested. “Operation Stolen Innocence” was a highly secretive investigation that police officials declined to speak on for months.
While it is important these sorts of investigations are not disclosed to the public for the protection of the victim, it could be worrisome to residents that this could be happening under their nose and they are unaware.
Brittney Jackson, a Florida A&M University student majoring in history, has experienced possible sex trafficking attempts on multiple occasions.
“This almost happened to me twice, or at least I felt like it was going to happen,” Jackson said. “One time we turned around and realized we were being followed by a car, another time we were on our way to our hotel and a man was literally following us on foot.”
Luckily, she reacted quickly and was able to be with a friend at all times.
It is unknown how the men in question were keeping tabs on their location besides the standard stalking techniques but tracking devices have become common in cases that are similar. Most recently, Apple has been facing criticism behind the safety of the new Apple AirTag tracking device.
According to Apple, “AirTag is a super easy way to keep track of your stuff. Attach one to your keys, slip another in your backpack. And just like that, they’re on your radar in the Find My app, where you can also track down your Apple devices and keep up with friends and family,” as stated on the official site. Although it seems the invention of the Apple AirTag could not go wrong, the small Bluetooth device has gone viral for the wrong reason.
For iPhone 6 or newer users, with Apple’s iOS 14.5 software or higher, an “unknown device” alert connected to an unfamiliar accessory, means it is possible someone has placed an AirTag nearby. Apple said that the devices have built-in security features that automatically activate when the devices are potentially being misused, but do not depend on the feature. If this happens, take it seriously and go directly to the local police station.
Terence M. Calloway, FAMU’s Chief of Police and assistant vice president of campus safety and security, says there are a variety of precautions students can take to be safer on campus.
“I encourage people to always walk with a buddy and be aware of your surroundings,” said Calloway. “If you feel like you are being tracked, make a police report immediately and let us look into it from an investigative aspect.”
In honor of January being National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, author of the book “Life Outside The Game: A Sex Trafficking Testimony”, Nicole McCall hopes to educate more people about the issue.
In a CBS 47 interview she asked that people keep an eye out for a few things. Someone who is not dressed for the occasion or weather; Someone not giving eye contact or answering simple questions, lastly, different vehicles coming and going out of one particular home.