June 02, 2016 - 12:24 PM
PENTICTON - A chapter of Creep Catchers, a group that uses social media to expose adult men who prey on young girls, has set up shop in Penticton.
"I’m just out there trying to protect the kids,” the leader of the Penticton chapter Tyler Fritsen says. Four people are helping him in the Penticton area.
Creep Catchers has chapters in Nanaimo and Victoria in B.C. They also have groups six groups in Alberta, two in Saskatchwan and one in New Brunswick.
"I make a fake account online and I lie about my age and as soon as I start talking to these guys I tell them I’m 14 years old and most of the time they’ll say ‘Oh, you’re too young to talk to me,' but probably four out of 10 guys will continue the conversation and they end up getting busted,” he says.
By “busted” Fritsen means exposed on social media. The police are not involved in his operation.
A video posted to Facebook shows Fritsen confronting a man in a Penticton parking lot, photographing the individual and his vehicle. He tells the man “he’s busted.”
He’s been up and running the Penticton chapter for about a week now and says he attracts one predator a day.
“It just sickens me there are so many guys out there willing to talk to a 14-year-old girl," Fritsen says, pointing out the men are always the first to initiate the sexual aspect of the conversation.
“I don’t care how old you are, if you’re older than 20 you should not be interacting with a child on the internet,” he says.
RCMP media liaison Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says the activities conducted by Creep Catchers are not condoned by police.
Moskaluk says people who bypass law enforcement and take matters into their own hands jeopardize the investigation if key evidence is lost.
"Individuals who engage in this type of action can risk their personal safety or the safety of other youths and the community in general," he says.
He assures the public the RCMP have an online presence.
"This work should be left to police officers who can do this in a controlled environment," he says.
Moskaluk recommends individuals contact their local police service or cybertip.ca to report suspected online child exploitation.
— This story was updated at 2:10 p.m., Thursday, June 2 and again at 4 p.m, 2016 to add information from RCMP and additional information about Tyler Fritsen.
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