"We've arrested teachers, preachers, coaches, counselors, police officers, army and military personnel," says Sgt. Thompson. Sgt. Thompson of the Bedford County sheriff's office is talking about online predators. He's part of the Blue Ridge Thunder, an undercover group that catches these predators.
"Any training that law enforcement has understands that Blue Ridge Thunder is at the cutting edge in Virginia and we're just very happy to have them here." Amy Pultz of the Staunton Augusta Junior Woman's Club helped to organize the event last tonight at Fort Defiance high school. She says they want to help educate parents on how to keep their kids safe online. "Online predators are obviously an on-growing risk to our youth, no longer do they have to be on the playgrounds, they now have a huge internet playground and so we really want parents to be aware and know how they can prevent these online attacks."
Thompson says parents should closely monitor their child's internet activities. Programs can be installed on computers that would allow parents to prevent kids from checking out certain sites. He also says chat rooms should be avoided at all times. This is a problem everywhere, including Augusta County.
"Right here in Augusta County we arrested a, we assisted with Augusta County, but he was a well known real-estate agent, his face was all over the boards and we got him for child pornography. "
Sgt. Thompson and the Blue Ridge Thunder group say they catch hundreds of online predators every year, posing as younger men, trying to get to children. He says that parent supervision will help cut down on predators getting to kids.