Human Trafficking and C-Stores
On 13 Dec 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Blue Campaign released the Human Trafficking Guide for Convenience Retail Employees. The guide is intended to inform frontline convenience-retail employees about key definitions, indicators of human trafficking (HT) that could be observed in a convenience-store setting, and example scenarios of HT. It also highlights what to report and how to report suspected trafficking, with the ultimate goal of helping victims. The last page of the guide (Recognize and Report HT information sheet) is a one-page employee resource that can be posted in break rooms or behind the counter for quick reference.
Because convenience stores (C-stores) are present in virtually all communities across the country, convenience retailers can play a significant role in combating HT.
C-stores serve half the U.S. population daily, usually have public restrooms, are open long hours, and offer convenience through more than 150,000 locations
Victims of HT report they visited C-stores every day
40% of Americans – and 45% of women — say that HT is a cause they would like their local retailer to address (Sep 2018 NACS survey)
90% of consumers say that they think more favorably of convenience store jobs when they hear that the company is fighting HT (Sep 2018 NACS survey)
NACS partnered with In Our Backyard in 2018 to support its Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) program which provides free training (Coupon Code: CSATRTO) on HT for their employees and free life- saving materials (Freedom Stickers) to post in stores. More than 20,000 convenience stores that post Freedom Stickers are already reaching four million people a day. Convenience retailers, state convenience retail associations, and industry suppliers in 47 states have partnered with CSAT.
The next time you visit a C-store, look for the guide’s Recognize and Report HT information sheet and/or the CSAT Freedom Sticker – if you don’t see them, drop them off with the manager during your next visit.
A C-store employee who suspects human trafficking is advised to follow their company’s reporting protocols or contact the Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line at 1-866-347-2423 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.