LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- This is the time of the year families head out to a lot of crowded holiday events, go shopping and step outside of their normal routine.

That's why the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is urging families to talk to children, especially teens.

When you're out shopping or running errands, LVMPD said human traffickers will not kidnap anyone on the spot.

Rather, traffickers may simply approach someone just to start a conversation.

Black Friday - Best Buy

This file photo shows customers at a Best Buy during the holiday shopping season. 

At crowded malls, schools and parks, the busier it is, the less likely people are to notice when a human trafficker is trying to lure a target.

“It’s not that they’re going to be snatched off the floor of a mall, but that someone may come up and start talking to them,” said Elynne Greene, who manages the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force.

LVMPD said traffickers rarely look suspicious.

“They're going to be attractive, well groomed, they’re going to be your handsome high school classmate,” Greene said.

That’s why even for parents, they may be hard to spot.

“They’re not going to walk up to you with a big overcoat and some cap pulled down over their face,” she said. “They’re going to look like someone that you might want to go out on a date with.”

Their targets are usually teenagers.

“They’re approached by someone who makes them feel pretty and has all the right things to say to them,” Greene said.

Police said it may start with a flattering encounter in-person, then traffickers hope to continue the conversation online.

“We do see young women in their 20s being recruited because someone is going to help them get ahead in their singing career, their modeling career,” Greene said.

That’s where police said things can get danger a lot faster.

“If you come with me, I’m going to buy you nice things, I’m going to make sure you have money, I’m going to make sure you’re safe,” LVMPD Lt. Kristine Buist said.

To stay safe, police said never go to busy places alone and do not get swept up in that sale or what’s on social media.

“It’s never a bad thing to be out with at least one other person or a larger group,” Lt. Buist said. “That way somebody will identify somebody that maybe just doesn’t make them feel right. It’s also being aware of your surroundings, not being buried in your phone.”

LVMPD said human trafficking is a problem in the Las Vegas valley, year-round.

To contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline, call 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733).

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved 

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