WITH the festive season approaching, Hillcrest SAPS is encouraging the community to be cautious at all times and be alert to human traffickers. According to Hillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith, trafficking has reached alarming levels throughout the country, with KZN ranked among the highest statistically. She said that, during this time of year, children are out and about enjoying festivities and that is when traffickers can get easy targets.“Students, pupils, and parents should be aware of the dangers of trusting strangers who offer them lifts; offer them fast paying jobs, or free scholarships.“For pupils, it’s after their exams, they are excited and want to have fun so they will be the most targeted ones because they go out at night without any supervision from their parents or guardians,” she said. She further advised that people need to guard themselves and know that if an offer seems too good to be true, most often it is. “Usually people who are involved in human trafficking, lure young girls and boys with money, then send them off to other countries where they become slaves of cheap labour or get involved in forced prostitution and drugs,” explained the communications officer.She said that youngsters need to be careful of befriending strangers on social media.“With the modern technology today, the criminal can hide behind any false identity and can meet you in the safety of your bedroom, behind a screen on the computer on Facebook or Skype,” she saidSmith further explained that often these underground human trafficking syndicates hide behind false identity profiles with fake photographs. “Never meet a stranger from the internet alone, as most often it is dangerous and can put one in a very vulnerable situation and can result in one being kidnapped for human trafficking purposes,” advised the captain.She further said that young girls should seek advice and do proper research before accepting any job offers that seem too good to be true, so as to make sure that the offers are legit. In conclusion, she said that the community is encouraged to work hand-in-hand with the police in combatting the increase in this crime. “Children should not fall into the trap of peer pressure and being bullied into doing unlawful criminal activities,” said Smith.She said those who might suspect anything may contact Crime Stop Tip on 08600 10111. “Any suspicious activity or person you suspect that could possibly be involved in human trafficking should be reported and can be investigated,” she added.