Several posts and rumors were making the rounds on social media this past week in southeast Minnesota, so it's my hope that these stories will help bring more awareness and keep people's heads on a swivel when faced with these kinds of situations.

While scrolling through Facebook earlier this week, I came across a post that was shared several times. I didn't delve into its content until I saw it for the fourth time come across my news feed. When I finally did read it, I could almost feel the fear and anxiety jumping off my screen within these stories. However, I wanted to do some extra digging and research before I posted a blog about the dangers of sex trafficking.

When I reached out to the Winona Police Department, Sergeant Chris Nelson, who's the head of the Criminal Investigation Department responded with "I'm unaware of anything."

We haven't yet received word from the LaCrosse Police Department (they did post on Facebook about it - see below); however, it's important to remember that just because stuff appears on social media and get's a lot of shares/retweets, it's not necessarily true. A lot of time this comes from individuals who are just seeking attention, which then causes unfounded fear in people.

Just remember:

Police have, and will ALWAYS encourage the public to be aware of their personal safety and to report suspicious activity. If you feel that you are being followed by someone please use the following tips, courtesy of the city of LaCrosse Police Department's Facebook page:

  1. Call 911 immediately.
  2. If walking stay in a public area, if driving drive to a police department or continue to drive until the police car locates you.
  3. Memorize the license plate number and vehicle or suspect description.
  4. Do not confront the individual(s).

It's important that we work together so we can stop human trafficking from invading our own communities. Be sure and share these tips so we can see the signs of trouble and perhaps spot any individuals who are planning any suspected foul play before it's too late.

Also see: Rochester Man Accused of Sexually Abusing 12-Year-Old Boy