Fairfield Vigilante! Crime Fighting Citizen Takes Matter Into Own Hands by Catfishing Pedophiles

The Fairfield Police Department and the law enforcement community within Jefferson County have been made aware of recent videos circulating online which appear to depict local adults attempting to meet what they believed to be children they had met online. These meetings appear to be the result of a private citizen or citizens establishing social media accounts of minors, then confronting the adult men (each individual depicted thus far has been male) who propositioned the minors to meet in person. Such activity is generally referred to as “catfishing” or “pedo-baiting.”

The videos are disturbing, and depict a shocking and unfortunate reality that children are often targeted for sexual abuse by adults online. The efforts of the individual creating these videos are commendable, and after meeting with members of law enforcement, the evidence and records generated by this individual have been turned over to law enforcement for further investigation. Frankly, the efforts of this individual are notable and commendable.

However, standard procedures from child exploitation investigation agencies generally prohibit the use of “vigilante” investigations or “stings” in furtherance of criminal investigations, for a number of reasons. Principally,  these investigations generally adhere to specific rules relating to evidentiary integrity and chain of custody, as well as procedural limitations on what can and cannot be said when an investigator poses as a minor online when investigating sexual exploitation. Furthermore, there are grave and serious safety concerns generated when confronting an adult who may have just been caught seeking to exploit a minor for sex. When law enforcement conducts these operations, it is in a controlled environment involving numerous trained and armed agents which limit the dangers present in a sting. Additionally, and ideally, the individual is arrested if the grounds exist. This further limits the danger posed that the target might harm themselves or others following the confrontation, which is a very real possibility in cases such as these. Because of these reasons, vigilante investigations are not condoned or encouraged in any way by law enforcement.

The Fairfield Police Department and additional agencies are actively investigating the records received relating to these videos, and will determine whether criminal charges are appropriate based on the information provided.

This incident stands as a good reminder to parents that children can and often are the subject of sexual attention by adults encountered online, and a conversation regarding safe online behavior is a good idea, as there are predators lurking online, but not far away, that wish to do harm to children.

This incident also means local agencies will be enhancing efforts at online enforcement operations to further discourage this type of behavior.

*Note from the Fairfield Police Department – “Stings conducted in this way are not condoned by law enforcement and vigilante acts such as these often cannot be used for further prosecution, and create serious safety concerns for the people involved.”