Vergennes Police Log: Police look into human trafficking cases

VERGENNES — Vergennes police dealt with a couple of cases over the past two weeks that demonstrated that human trafficking touches even places as remote as Addison County, Vt.

In the first incident, on July 28 Vergennes police were asked to assist state officials in finding a missing woman. She was from outside the county but state authorities had reason to think she may have gone through the Little City. Police ultimately tracked her down in Connecticut and suspect hers was a case of human trafficking.

Then on Aug. 6 city police helped out Vermont State Police with an incident in Ferrisburgh where two women were flagging down cars on Route 7 and calling for help. Apparently they were on their way back from Philadelphia to Burlington when they were kicked out of the car they were riding in. Authorities were concerned that human trafficking and drug use could be involved in the incident. Police called the rescue squad to help care for the women.

“Human trafficking is a real thing, and people don’t realize it is happening, it’s going right through our towns in Vermont,” said Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel.

Also between July 25 and Aug. 7, Vergennes police conducted 11 directed patrols and three foot patrols as well as made 13 traffic stops. Twice during the fortnight Chief Merkel spoke with a state committee that is developing a regionalized dispatching plan.

During the period, Vergennes officers:

  • On July 25 looked into a report in the Booth Woods area that someone kept turning off a game camera and a suspected bullet hole was found in a shed. With lack of any solid evidence of a trespasser, police said they would keep an eye on the area.
  • On July 26 logged a report that a car had run into a parked vehicle on School Street and caused minor damage.
  • On July 27 responded to a report at Valley Vista rehabilitation center on Alden Place that a new client there was banging windows and threatening staff. The person agreed to be taken to Porter Hospital for evaluation.
  • On July 27 checked out an alarm at the credit union and found the building secure.
  • On July 27 checked the welfare of a local resident. An emergency care provider who was directed to the residence told police that they found the car belonging to the person in the driveway but no one would answer the door. Police contacted the person who was sought and was told that they just hadn’t heard the knock on the door; they were fine.
  • On July 29 intervened in a dispute between two New Haven Road neighbors over their property line. Police issued no trespass orders to both parties.
  • On July 29 investigated a dispute between two Main Street residents. Police spoke with both sides about their grievances about the other and said the case is still under investigation.
  • On Aug. 1 dealt with a two-car collision on South Water Street that resulted in minor damage to the cars and no injuries.
  • On Aug. 1 heard a report from Thomas Circle that a man was suspected to have tried to break into a car; police are following up with the suspect.
  • On Aug. 1 received a report of a sexual assault at Northlands Job Corps; the incident is under investigation.
  • On Aug. 1 fielded a complaint from a Church Street resident that a man was stalking them; this too is under investigation.
  • On Aug. 1 responded to a report that an elderly man was not feeling well and not able to drive; police had Vergennes Area Rescue Squad take him to Porter Hospital.
  • On Aug. 2 on behalf of Vermont State Police looked into report that two men in a truck were fighting and doing drugs. When Vergennes police arrived they found no signs of either a fight or drug use.
  • On Aug. 2 attempted to contact the owner of a debit card found on Main Street but were unable to locate him. Police said they would continue to look for the card owner.
  • On Aug. 5 assisted VARS with an older man who passed out at a Main Street business. It appeared to be a case of low blood sugar, the man ate some food and, after police assured themselves that he was OK, the man drove away under his own power.
  • On Aug. 5 looked into a complaint of a suspicious person on South Maple Street but couldn’t find them.
  • On Aug. 1 assisted state police locate a vehicle that had been involved in a crash. Vergennes police found the vehicle, took photos of the damage to the vehicle and forwarded the images to the trooper.
  • On Aug. 6 were told by a Thomas Circle resident that they had be threatened over Facebook Messenger. The threat came after the resident had posted a report on Facebook about a specifically named person attempting to enter his car — that person allegedly levied the threat. Police said they had no proof and issued no trespass orders.
  • On Aug. 6 logged a report that a dog was locked in car on Main Street in 85-degree weather at 9 p.m. The officer told the driver of the car to take the dog out of the vehicle.
  • On Aug. 7 investigated a report that a woman from Valley Vista was walking topless on Maple Streetin the middle of the afternoon. The officer offered to give her a ride back to the rehab center but she declined and walked back on her own, with the officer making sure she returned there directly.
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