Update: A spokesperson from the Sheriff’s Office said this afternoon that no criminal activity is suspected.
“Carteret County Sheriff’s Office is investigating these allegations. We do not believe this is related to human trafficking and is likely an individual who made some inappropriate comments to an individual. Nothing is believed to be criminal at this time,” said Deputy Sheriff and Public Information officer Nick Wilson.
Original story: Officials from the Stacy Volunteer Fire Department are warning Down East residents that two or more individuals have been approaching young women and asking them to meet them at the fire station.
Law enforcement has been notified, and the station is equipped with security cameras. No further interactions have been reported yet.
The individuals are posing as painters hired to repaint the fire station. Their intentions are unknown at this time.
“Currently there is no one authorized or in the process of painting our building,” Chief Billy Styron said late last night in a Facebook post.
Styron told The Beacon he was not sure of the ages of the young women involved, or if they are children or adults.
Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 252-728-8400 or Chief Styron at 252-503-5797.
Although no evidence has yet been released that points toward an organized criminal effort in this case, residents should be aware that human trafficking has exploded in our state within the past few years.
As of 2017, NC was among the top ten states for human trafficking. In 2012, 100 cases of human trafficking were reported. Last year, there were 287 – an increase of nearly 300 percent.
In 2018, human trafficking were reported in Carteret and adjacent counties, including Craven, Onslow, and Hyde. Trafficking reports have been made in Carteret County every year since at least 2014, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Onslow had the highest number of cases out of the four. Exact numbers for each county were unavailable.
This story is developing.