The Process of Catching Online Predators

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John Daniel Patterson Jr.

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- You've seen shows like "To Catch a Predator," where an officer poses as a teen and lures sexual predators out to be arrested, but that doesn't only happen on television.

Last week, 66 year-old John Daniel Patterson was arrested after police say he was chatting with a 13 year old boy and even tried to meet him. Little did he know it was an undercover police officer.

"There is an element of anonymity people feel that a computer provides but it is actually very easy to track someone down," said Felicia Glick, who works with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office was responsible for the sting that caught Patterson.

Glick said many police departments across the Valley use different sites for this operation.

"There are different avenues, there's craigslist, there's certainly Facebook, there's tweeting, any type of format where you can communicate with someone else," said Glick.

Once an officer posts a message posing as a teen, it doesn't take long for someone to respond. "It can just take just a matter of minutes of conversation over some type of communication device that may only take 10 or 15 minutes," said Glick, "Young people often don't realize how much information about themselves that they're giving up, and if you have someone that's willing to take the time and communicate with someone over the computer, they're going to be willing to take the time and search out you child or your family member."

Then, once the predator tries to solicit the undercover officer, a crime is committed.

"You find other evidence though your search warrant and you have maybe two, three, four, five charges and before you know it you have suspect that is facing over 100 years of prison time," said Glick.

In the past two weeks, they've caught three people. "It is their trusting neighbor or the trusting person they may go to church with," said Glick.

She said it gives her satisfaction knowing they're cleaning up the web.


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