It’s no secret that predators of all description have inundated the Internet and other communications media. They include financial predators, identity thieves and the worst of the worst, sexual predators.

According to FBI statistics, more than a half million pedophiles are online every day. Are you scared yet?

Some of these parasites seek to make face-to-face contact with their prey, while others are content to anonymously collect and trade child pornography images, both in photo form and as drawn images. We have seen recent cases of the latter group in Copperas Cove. Several arrests have been made, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

These vermin use the Internet’s social sites to identify and lure both willing and unsuspecting targets into their web of deceit and depravity.

Pedophiles go where children go. Amusement parks, zoos and video arcades are prime real estate for perverts seeking to make contact with children.

Since the advent and rapid expansion of the Internet, social networking sites and online gaming venues have become fertile trolling grounds.

According to the U.S. Justice department statistics, Internet crime has increased a staggering 800 percent in the last five years.

This statistic is the result of several contributing factors, which are or should be obvious.

The rapid increase in smart phone ownership is the most prevalent of reasons, together with the fantastic development and availability of new technology.

It is a challenge to find any youngster over the age of 12 who doesn’t own and use a smartphone. Children who are proficient with and regularly use a home computer begin at even younger ages.

Sexual predators, including pedophiles, are all over the Internet, having infiltrated social sites and chat rooms frequented by teens and adolescents in every venue.

These people frequently present themselves as teens to make contact with and gain the trust of their intended target. They do this by lurking on sites frequented by teens and preteens.

Once successful at that, many of these vermin attempt to meet their target in person. This is where the potential for disaster is the highest.

The younger generation wishes to express themselves about their likes, wants and dreams. Unfortunately, when they do this on some social media sites, they become an open book not only to “friends,” but also to those with less-than-honorable intentions.

Worse, some users will accept friend requests from other users who are total strangers. The FBI estimates that about 70 percent of youngsters will do that, based on actual case investigations.

Obviously, parents and guardians have a responsibility to protect their charges from Internet predators. Keeping computers out in the open within the home, and limiting smart phone usage without parental supervision can accomplish this.

I know — easier said than done. We can’t hover over them 24-7. There is no easy solution. Parents must talk to their children about these issues and the inherent dangers omni-present on the Internet. Children will listen and know their parents care about them. They may not always respond positively.

Parents must realize that some teens are often deceitful regarding their online activities.

Teens have created their own Internet language to communicate parental supervision activities. Parents who see these abbreviations being used by their child can be assured their child is concealing actual Internet activity. Some of these are listed here:

  • (L)MIRL: Let’s meet in real life
  • PIR: Parents in room
  • PAW: Parents are watching
  • POS: Parent over shoulder
  • P911: Parent emergency.

Assaults

Eleven assaults went into the book this week. Seven of these involved family violence and one was an aggravated sexual assault of a child. I think you’ll agree that the perpetrator of the latter deserves the harshest possible sentence if convicted.

  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported April 10 in the 1500 block of Joe Morse Drive.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence and assault by contact/family violence was reported was reported April 10 in the 600 block of North 23rd Street.
  • An aggravated sexual assault of a child was reported April 11. The location is omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported April 13 in the 100 block of Easy Street.
  • An assault by threat was reported April 14 in the 100 block of South 15th Street.
  • An assault causing bodily injury was reported April 14 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • Another assault with bodily injury was reported April 14 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • An aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/family violence was reported April 14 in the 200 block of Appaloosa Drive.
  • An assault by threat was reported April 14 in the 2100 block of Brantley Avenue.
  • Injury to a child/bodily injury was reported April 10. The location is omitted to protect the identity of the victim.

Theft/burglary

Sixteen thefts/burglaries were reported this week. I don’t believe we’ve become a den of thieves, but some of these vermin are among us.

  • A theft of clothing valued at $1,500 was reported April 10 in the 200 block of Easy Street.
  • The theft of a firearm was reported April 10 in the 1100 block of Katelyn Circle.
  • The theft of a firearm was reported April 11 in the 400 block of Windmill Drive. Firearm theft is a felony crime.
  • The theft of currency was reported April 11 in the 2300 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of a hoverboard was reported April 11 in the 300 block of Lutheran Church Road.
  • The theft of a wallet and currency was reported April 11 in the 2900 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A theft of currency was reported April 12 in the 2300 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A theft of service was reported April 12 in the 2500 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of military equipment was reported April 12 in the 900 block of South 23rd Street.
  • The theft of a medical device and criminal mischief was reported April 13 in the 100 block of White Wing Circle.
  • A theft of a cellphone from a residence was reported April 14 in the 1300 block of Brown Drive.
  • The theft of a dog from a residence was reported April 14 in the 800 block of North 19th Street.
  • The theft of a vehicle was reported April 16 in the 600 block of North Main Street.
  • A theft was reported April 16 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle (theft) was reported April 16 in the 1200 block of South Third Street.
  • A theft was reported April 16 in the 1900 block of North First Street.

Other crimes

  • Criminal mischief was reported April 10 in the 200 block of Margaret Lee Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported April 10 in the 900 block of Taylor Creek Road.
  • Criminal mischief was reported April 11 in the 2200 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Criminal mischief was reported April 11 in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported April 11 in the 200 block of East Avenue B.
  • Possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia was reported April 11 in the 100 block of Meggs Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported April 13 in the 100 block of Sherman Avenue.
  • Public lewdness was reported April 13 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • Cruelty of animals was reported April 14 in the 600 block of Alfred Drive.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported April 14 in the 1200 block of Joe’s Road.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported April 13 in the 200 block of Sherman Avenue.
  • Reckless damage was reported April 14 in the 1100 block of Hawk Trail.
  • Interference with child custody was reported April 14 in the 100 block of Truman Avenue.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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