In a case that highlights the dangers of ‘paedophile hunting’, a 17-year-old girl was kidnapped after an attempted sting on an alleged sex predator.
Robert Dreyfus, from California, was arrested on Sunday (October 6) after an amateur sex sting by a group of teenage girls went haywire.
The predator-hunters were on a mission to prove Dreyfus had solicited sex from young girls he’d met on social media.
Check out the local news report below:
The group initially made contact with the 32-year-old on social media, wanting proof that he was trying to hook up with underage girls, and planned to turn over any evidence they had to the police.
On Sunday, in Vista, California, the group arranged a meeting with Dreyfus in a car park where they planned to expose him – however, it went quickly awry.
According to local authorities, Dreyfus ‘convinced the 17-year-old victim to get into his vehicle to talk’ before driving away without her consent.
Fortunately, the victim was able to contact her friends on her phone, who then called the police for help.
When authorities eventually caught up with Dreyfus, he reportedly let her out of the vehicle unharmed before being booked into the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of kidnapping, sending harmful matter to a minor and communication with a minor for specific offences.
While their intentions were well-intentioned, Jan Ronis, a criminal defense attorney, said they may have complicated the case.
As reported by KGTV, Ronis said:
This was really dangerous and something that’s best left to professionals in law enforcement.
Normally, law enforcement runs these operations. The solicitation is recorded. The conversations and meeting places are surveilled. This is a bunch of kids.
The sheriff’s office released a statement explaining that the public is strongly discouraged ‘from setting up meetings or contacting anyone for the purpose of catching an individual who is committing a crime’.
The statement, as reported by CNN, added:
These types of situations can be extremely dangerous and should be handled by your local law enforcement agency.
As reported by CNN, San Diego County District Attorney’s office said Dreyfus was released on $175,000 bail and is expected to appear in court on October 15.
While paedophile hunters are always a hit on social media, it’s incidents like this that show it’s sometimes wise to leave catching criminals to the professionals – their assistance can hinder a system already under pressure.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child seeking advice and support call Childline for free on 0800 1111
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.