A watchful truck stop employee helped law enforcement track down the Valrico teen and a sex offender she was traveling with in Louisiana, a success of an eyes-of-the-road network that has developed with truck stops and truckers across the country.
Between fliers posted on walls, social media sites posting pictures and communications on CB radios on the road, drivers and employees at the places they stop for fuel and food are now on the lookout for missing children and suspicious individuals.
“Whenever we ride we just look at different things,” said Kennis Mills, a driver who said friends often send him pictures from alerts about missing people.
Recently, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi credited truckers with helping in the fight against human trafficking, calling in sightings on the road.
In addition to being armed with information, they also use gut instinct, noticing when things look out of place. For example, a child who might seem scared or be pulling away from an adult, or others acting suspiciously.
“You go into the rest areas from time to time and you look at them and think maybe this situation isn't right,” said driver Charlie Smith.
It’s an important duty for Smith, who has three children of his own back home in South Carolina.
“It’s very important to me,” he said. “I’d like someone to do that for me, for my kids.”