AUSTIN, Texas - Austin police are investigating a possible sex trafficking crime in North Austin. They say it's one of the multiple massage parlors they're investigating in and around Austin.
Officials say sex trafficking is on the rise and Austin is right in the middle of it all.
The Austin Police Department is looking into a recent case of possible sex trafficking that reportedly happened on January 17, around 6 p.m. According to APD, they responded to a call about a welfare check at a massage parlor located at 13039 Pond Springs Road.
Officials say they were tipped off that multiple women, ages 20-40, were being sold for sex.
When police entered the massage parlor they say they found baby powder, body oils and lingerie. According to police, the massage parlor had blacked out windows and a security camera.
Officials were later able to retrieve a cell phone from a woman believed to be connected to the massage parlor that they're investigating. Kari Hamilton with SAFE CARES, a local advocacy group in Austin that works to help trafficking victims, says it's important to spot the warning signs.
"Listen to your gut instinct. You know if there's a massage parlor across the way from you. Picking up on those things like windows are blacked. I never see inside. What's going inside of there? Is there a lot of cars? Are random girls being dropped off? Knowing that it doesn't seem like a typical massage organization or employment," said Hamilton.
Friday, FOX 7 spoke with residents that live in the area who said they were too afraid to come forward about the situation. That's something Austin Police Sgt. Kevin Covington says is a common response when handling sex trafficking crimes. "A lot of people say I don't want to get involved they think that the mobs going to come and get them they're not," said Sgt. Covington.
While others took to social media to voice their concerns.
One person writing, "Cars coming and going all day, to get a massage, paying for more than a back rub. The people coming in and out are usually pretty rough looking. I'm sure there are drugs and maybe other crime taking place in the parking lot on a daily basis."
Sgt. Covington says the public often holds the key to break the chains. "To get a young lady out of that situation and maybe she can help advocate to get another one out to get another one out. These girls are living this life of constant sexual abuse," said Covington.
Hamilton says speaking up is the one thing victims may not do for themselves but says it's up to the public to be their voice. "If you see something say something. The national trafficking hotline will always take tips," said Hamilton.