Human Trafficking Signs in Plain Sight

A Crime Stoppers ad campaign is educating the public on the signs of human trafficking and letting them know how to report the crime anonymously.

“Human trafficking is a growing concern, not just in Toronto but in the Greater Toronto Area,” Chief Mark Saunders said. “These victims could be your daughter, your niece or the girl next door. These are girls who are coerced into the sex trade and are held under the influence of drugs, intimidation and violence. The money that is gathered is used for criminality by the pimps. These pimps are earning $250,000 (a year).”

The Toronto Police Service has a dedicated Human Trafficking Enforcement Team that has rescued 25 women and girls from their forced involvement in the sex trade.

Crime Stoppers Vice Chair Sean Sportun said the campaign, created by DDB Canada and Tribal Toronto, was commissioned because human trafficking is ruining the futures of young people.

“These traffickers reap large benefits while robbing victims of their freedom, dignity and human potential,” he said.

He said the campaign asks people to keep their eyes open and be aware that, if they see signs of human trafficking, they should pick up the phone, send a text or an email to Crime Stoppers.

“Three poster concepts engage the community to find the hidden image. That image is a discreetly placed scene or sign of human trafficking within the three different hotel room fabrics: wallpaper, curtains and bedding,” Sportun said. “As our tagline indicates, human trafficking often hides in plain sight as do the signs and we want the community to be aware of those signs.”

A website detailing the signs of human trafficking (Hotel de Jeunesse) is part of the campaign.

Signs of human trafficking include:

  • young girls wearing too much makeup or clothing inappropriate for their age
  • large age gap between male and female with no explanation for relationship
  • many male visitors coming and going from hotel rooms or parking lots
  • young girls who are underweight and appear malnourished
  • girls whose companions do all the talking for them

Sportun said all tips to Crime Stoppers remain anonymous to police.

“Remember, you remain anonymous, criminals don’t.”

Anyone with information on human trafficking should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

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