Predators using gaming systems to reach children


(WTNH) — There is a secured room, locked behind metal fencing where Connecticut State Police not only have one, but two separate evidence lockers for computers, hard drives and cell phones tablets that have been seized in cyber crimes against children.

Conservatively, more than 3,000 cyber tips come in every year to the Connecticut State Police. Sgt. Richard Alexandre heads up the unit.

“These referrals that come in, will come in with a portion of the conversation or a photograph. We do have something to go on quite often we will have a picture of the child or the suspect,” says Alexandre.

State police issue search warrants, seize computers and even use specialized media sniffing dogs to find hidden thumb drives so they can analyze the images and recover deleted photos and conversations. Inside the hundreds of cardboard boxes wrapped in red evidence tape is an alarming change going on in cyberspace.

Sgt. Alexandre says pedophiles are now using online gaming to go after unsuspecting children in a target rich environment.

“Xbox and PlayStations are frequently used to communicate over the Internet and allow children to interface with not always who they think they are talking to,” says Alexandre.

The gaming trend is to play online in group settings, kids can talk to each other on headphones, as they live stream these games back-and-forth. And so can the pedophiles.

“Whoever is on the other end has unfettered access to this child via that game. They can start a conversation, they can take that conversation offline and start texting,” says Alexandre.

State police say you should monitor your child’s gaming like you would their computer or cell phone and as you watch your children at home, state police are undercover online watching for the predators.

“They are on the Internet, they are in chat rooms, they have profiles that would match the purpose of that chat room and if they are approached, they will allow the conversation to proceed and let that person’s intentions be known,” said Alexandre.

News 8 asked how many troopers work undercover at the computer crimes lab or out on the front lines, they say for logistical reasons they don’t give out the numbers and they never have, but they say secrecy is a key component to staying under cover and a head of predators.

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