ADDISON -- "I never thought something like that could happen to me, but it did."
Those powerful words from a local girl who was a victim of human trafficking hang on the wall of Addison's Traffick911, offering a sad light shining on a dark part of our society.
"We'd rather prevent someone from being a victim of this crime than have to restore them later," Traffick911 Director of Programs Lindsey Speed said about their program.
Now, they've gained a potentially powerful partner in the fight, a phone app called TraffickCam.
"Citizens can say, 'Hey, anywhere I travel, anywhere I go, I can take a picture where I am and send it in and feel like I'm helping to combat human trafficking,'" Speed said.
It works like this.
After downloading the app, you simply put in the name of the hotel, your room number and four pictures.
They ask for:
- Two pictures of the whole room, taken from different angles
- One picture from the foot of the bed facing the headboard
- One picture of the bathroom from the door
"Of the sex ads we see most often, we see it around the vanity area in the bathroom or on the beds," Speed said.
That means your pictures could give investigators a fighting chance at finding the girls advertised online.
"People who are looking for these exploited victims online can say, 'Hey, I've seen that bedspread in three other ads, and they investigated this one and it ended up being at a certain hotel," Speed said.
With more than 70,000 app downloads in six months, TraffickCam is catching on, and hopefully soon will help in catching sex traffickers in DFW and beyond.