A covert police operation has resulted in the arrest of a Vernon man for child luring.
The man, in his 50s, attended a restaurant Aug. 16 to meet a young boy he’d been communicating with online.
That’s where he was arrested by the B.C. RCMP’s Integrated Child Exploitation unit.
The man was unaware that the person he thought was a young boy was, in fact, a highly skilled covert investigator with B.C. ICE. Over a period of weeks, the man allegedly engaged in dialogue with the supposed boy, which was increasingly inappropriate and sexual in nature.
The man subsequently arranged to meet with the boy at a local Vernon fast food restaurant.
A number of investigators from B.C. ICE and a specialized surveillance unit travelled from the Lower Mainland to intercept the man at the restaurant, where he had arranged to meet who he thought was the young boy.
Assisted by the Vernon RCMP, the man was instead greeted by police investigators, and arrested for the offense of luring.
The suspect was later released with strict conditions governing his contact with children and his access to the Internet. An electronic device was seized and is currently being analyzed.
B.C. ICE reports that at this time, they have no evidence suggesting that any local children were directly victimized by the man. The investigation does however remain ongoing.
“While we do everything we can to proactively identify and apprehend predators who are actively trying to meet with children, this investigation serves as a grim reminder for parents,” said Sgt. Mat Van Laer, head of B.C. ICE.
“Child predators will go to great lengths to win the trust of their intended victims. We advise parents to educate children about possible dangers online, and oversee their computer use.”
A full report is expected to be forwarded to Crown counsel. The man who was arrested is scheduled to appear on Sept. 19 for a first appearance, at which time it is expected formal charges will be heard.
The B.C. ICE unit also relies on tips from the public and encourages anyone who has information about the online exploitation of children to contact either their local police or report online at www.cybertip.ca.
Tips for parents:
• Be aware of your child’s online activities.
• Parents should supervise children’s computer use and be aware who they are talking with.
• Parents should restrict talk to children about what information is appropriate to post, or reveal in chats.
• Be aware child predators will spend a long time to win the trust of a child. Sexual content may not be introduced until a relationship is well established.