Convenience Stores Against Trafficking

What is CSAT?

Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) empowers the convenience store industry to take a stand against the atrocity of human trafficking in America. CSAT provides training, victim outreach and public awareness of human trafficking through convenience stores.

While nonprofits and law enforcement are at the forefront of combatting this injustice, the convenience store industry has a uniquely vital role in ending human trafficking in America. More than 150,000 convenience stores are in communities across the United States and serve half of the population daily.

Per the words of Henry Armour, CEO of NACS, “C-store doesn’t just stand for convenience store, it also stands for community store.” As the eyes and ears of our nation’s communities, convenience stores can safely report traffickers and save lives. CSAT is the next step in eliminating human trafficking in our backyard.

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What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is modern day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Victims of human trafficking are denied the basic human rights of health, food, shelter, and safety. They are abused, controlled and forced to live and work in deplorable conditions. Victims often do not realize that they are being trafficked or that help is available.

Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world. Drugs can only be sold once. Women, children and men can be sold over and over again for sex and labor. Nationally 450,000 children run away from home each year.  1 out of every 3 runaway teens will be lured toward trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home.

Why Convenience Stores?

Human trafficking happens 365 days a year in every city and town in America. No community is immune. Traffickers not only exploit people, they also exploit locations. Because of this, convenience stores may intersect with human trafficking. Traffickers may bring their victims to convenience stores to purchase fuel, cigarettes, alcohol and condoms, and to clean up in the restroom if they are being trafficked out of a car or alley. Longer hours of operation, public restrooms and involvement in the daily lives of their customers, increase the likelihood that convenience stores can help victims of human trafficking.

Convenience stores are the eyes and ears in the community and have the opportunity to report trafficking situations while remaining safe. In Our Backyard is the first anti-trafficking group to engage the convenience store industry in this manner and has encountered an overwhelmingly positive response to the program thus far.

CSAT Training Video from In Our Backyard on Vimeo.

Statements of Support

“As a leader in our industry, The Greater Houston Retailers Cooperative Association, Inc. (GHRA) cares a great deal about the communities it serves. With nearly 2,000 GHRA member stores across the greater Houston area, we are able to play a vital role in raising awareness and reaching out to potential victims of human trafficking. GHRA is proud to participate in the Convenience Stores Against Trafficking initiative to promote safety and support for our communities.”

– Mike Thompson, CEO, Greater Houston Retailers Cooperative Association, Inc.

“I feel that the Convenience Stores Against Trafficking initiative has made our store a safer environment. Traffickers don’t want to come in because they know we have taken a stand against human trafficking.”

– Kent Couch, Owner Stop and Go Mini Mart and Growler Guys

“Polaris supports In Our Backyard’s new Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) program. Similar to the Truckers Against Trafficking industry model, through training on human trafficking indicators and Freedom Stickers with the National Human Trafficking Hotline, CSAT is empowering an industry that serves half of the U.S. population daily to help stop human trafficking in their communities. Engaging new industries in the fight against trafficking is a critical step toward ending this crime and we appreciate CSAT’s leadership in this effort.”

– Jenna Novak, Strategic Engagement Advisor, Polaris

“The Convenience Stores Against Trafficking project helps educate convenience store owners about trafficking and how they can help. Convenience store owners can enable countless victims to access the assistance they need. I wholeheartedly applaud the work that In Our Backyard has done to combat the scourge of human trafficking in our nation.”

– Congressman Ted Poe

“TAT is excited to see CSAT embark on their critical mission to unite all convenience store workers in combating human trafficking and believe their work has the potential to recover many victims, while closing loopholes traffickers are currently exploiting.”

– Kendis Paris, Executive Director, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT)

“I applaud Convenience Stores Against Trafficking for their commitment to join forces with the growing number of businesses and organizations combatting this issue. They, like the National Runaway Safeline, are on the frontlines, in a great position to offer a lifeline to help and support.”

– Maureen Blaha, Executive Director, National Runaway Safeline

“Even one person’s efforts can help save a child. We urge everyone to be apart of the solution by reporting it if they see something suspicious. Together we can show traffickers that their crimes will not be tolerated and show these vulnerable children that someone cares.”

– John Clark, CEO National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

CSAT Official Launch Event

In conjunction with our annual anti-trafficking efforts surrounding the Super Bowl, In Our Backyard held a launch event for CSAT on January 28, 2017 in Houston, TX. Several notable figures were present to offer their support including: Dan Harris, Captain over Vice, Houston Police Department; SSA Al Trible, FBI; Misa Nguyen, Program Director United Against Human Trafficking Houston, and Sherali Haiderali and Ahmed Hasora of the Greater Houston Retailers Association. 

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The event concluded with an outreach to convenience stores surrounding NRG stadium and the downtown Houston areas. Teams of trained volunteers shared materials with convenience store employees and managers regarding human trafficking and missing children. Below are video testimonials from volunteers who participated in our CSAT program launch. These efforts provided awareness and resources to hundreds of convenience stores. The outreach was part of an effort that led to the recovery of missing children who were at risk for being trafficked.

Through a partnership with the Greater Houston Retailers Association, we were able to distribute more than 4,200 Freedom Stickers to convenience stores through the Houston Area. Their support of our program launch was critical to our success and we have continued to form more partnerships within the c-store industry as we roll-out this national program.