Small town child predator task force nets 25 arrests in 2 years
FAIRBURY (Heart of Illinois ABC) - The Fairbury Police Department may be small, but they are working to get sex offenders off all Illinois streets. In the past two months, they have arrested two people. Now, the department is working to lead others to making arrests in cases like these.
In a city of about 4,000 people and a police department of eight, Fairbury is using social media to bust child predators. At first, by chance.
“It was a happy mistake, that when we put up some of these social media accounts we started getting contacted by these really disgusting people,” said Fairbury Police Chief Robert Mac McCormick.
Chief McCormick says since creating the profile two years ago, they’ve arrested 25 people, most already prosecuted.
“This has an impact not just for our community, but it’s far reaching,” said McCormick.
Detective Tyler Rafferty leads these stings, working with state, local and federal agencies.
“With Facebook it’s probably over a hundred messages a day. With Kik, I try to stay off it because it freezes my phone that’s how many messages are coming in,” said Rafferty.
With her consent, Rafferty uses photos of an 18-year-old woman.
“I just post regular selfies, fully clothed pictures, of this girl and guys are immediately attracted to it,” said Rafferty.
Rafferty tells the men he’s a 13, 14, or 15-year-old girl, but that does not bother the predators who eventually want to meet in person.
“I’ve taken a 19-year-old into custody all the way into 72.”
It’s a tactic that’s been so effective, other agencies are looking to them for advice.
“My investigator just had a class with a smaller agency because they want to do this, they don’t know how. We’ve already traveled a lot of that road, so we can jumpstart them,” said McCormick.
That’s the goal, teach every agency.
“It doesn’t matter what size department you are, if you aren’t putting some effort toward this you probably should,” said McCormick.
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