A woman advertises sex on the online classifieds site craigslist. But instead of ending in a simple arrest, the sting triggers a series of downloaded cellphone records, subpoenaed Internet activity and Web searches based on new information that le to more arrests, a man charged as her alleged pimp and a year-old runaway girl taken away from a life of exploitation and into the hands of Orange County Social Services.
What used to transpire on street corners and in newspaper classified has moved to the realm of anonymous cellphone calls and online personaland police have been catching up fast. As one of the only departments in the region with dedicated vice officers, Huntington Beach police are using the newest technology to fight the oldest profession.
The department is carefully watching online vice crimes, from prostitution to child predators, said Huntington Beach police Lt. Dave Bunetta.
Since October, it has made at least 14 digitally related arrests. As for the sting in question, it all began with a Craigslist ad, said Sgt. Jim McLean, who he the vice unit.
In the meantime, police also found several prepaid cellphones, downloaded their calls and text messages, and subpoenaed their records from the phone company, according to authorities. But those cellphone s also led them back to Craigslist, where they found yet another advertisement inviting calls to one of those phones, he said.
When police showed up at a motel this time, they found someone slightly more unexpected — a year-old girl who had run away from her parents. We found her and gave her to Social Services.
Police will also, for example, do an online stakeout for references to a bar with an underage drinking problem, he said. In one case, a teenager posted an invitation on MySpace to a party at the bar, promising underage drinking, only to find the police saw the ad as well. The people who make it easiest tend to be predators and those would-be patrons of prostitutes, he said.
We were posing as a year-old girl. It was a picture of him standing next to his car with his plate in it. Daily Pilot e-Newspaper: Thursday, Nov. Laguna Beach honors veterans with ceremony at Monument Point. .
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