This past week authorities from various law enforcement agencies throughout greater Los Angeles unleashed ‘Operation Breakheart’ – a coordinated effort that resulted in the arrests of 275 online child predators and dozens of victims freed.
Today’s parents need to drastically change their way of thinking and realize that the danger isn’t just in chat rooms or on social media, said Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.
“I found out this guy was texting him at all hours of the day and night, he was sending him messages during school hours, so I don’t think he was a student or someone my son’s age. It really opened my eyes to how vulnerable children can be when they go online.” stated Luis Urena, a Los Angeles father of two.
Urena’s son met the sexual predator while playing Call of Duty online. The player on the other side of the game struck up a conversation with the boy and asked for his cell number.
“It’s just so easy for a kid to just give out that information,” said Urena, who was tipped off to the communications by Verizon Wireless.
Included in the hundreds of sexual predators that were arrested was a teaching assistant who works with special needs children, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy, an attorney who reportedly believed he was going to meet with children who were 8 and 10, and a Los Angeles City Fire Department Explorer.
Headed by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted the operation in anticipation of Internet Safety Month, which kicked off this month.
Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department led Operation Brokenheart, reaching both victims and predators in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Education was a major component of the operation, including 19 Internet safety presentations last month.
If you would like to report inappropriate material or attempts to contact children through the Internet can do so by calling the CyberTip hotline at 800-843-5678 or by visiting www.cybertipline.com.