Aug 2, 2014 12:26 AM by Maddie Garrett

Police Warn Parents of Mobile Apps Predators Use to Target Minors

Friday Colorado Springs Police arrested Jason Kozak for trying to solicit sex from a minor. Police said Kozak was using two mobile apps, Kik and Whisper, to communicate with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but was actually an undercover detective.

When Kozak tried to meet the minor for sex at a coffee shop, police arrested him.

Springs Police said things like this happen more than you might think, the Internet Crimes Against Children unit is constantly busy, tracking down online predators.

Alex Richardson, a father of three young girls, said he knows the dangers out there. He said he's especially careful with is oldest daughter who is 10.

"We're real active in looking at what she's looking at," said Richardson.

With an iPad and Internet access, Richardson and his wife aren't taking any chances with their children.

"Take the time to understand what your child's using, because you never know there may be someone that can actually get in contact with them and you know bad things can happen," he explained.

And Lt. Catherine Buckley with Colorado Springs Police said bad things do happen.

"It does happen often," she said. "They're trying to remove these predators from the internet, but as soon as they get someone in custody there is going to be someone else to back fill that hole."

Another mom, Sarah Montoya said, she's glad police are catching these predators, but the numbers concern her.

"It's terrifying how many they catch and how many people are preying on children," said Montoya.

The mobile apps these predators are using are not just Facebook and other social media sights. There are the popular ones among teens, like the texting app Kik or Whisper, and the photo-trading app Snap Chat.

Lt. Buckley said parents should watch out for these apps.

"They are apps that are used by a lot of perpetrators, so that's something to be mindful of if those type of apps come up on your children's smart phone or your different devices," she warned.

Buckley said parents have the power to take action in trying to prevent their children from being a target.

"You have to monitor what they're doing and know who they're contacting," she said.

Montoya agrees, saying she won't even let her son have a smart phone until he is much older.

"He's so vulnerable, he's so innocent that he would be easily accessible and I don't want to put him in that position," she said.

Buckley recommends that parents regularly check their child's phone, tablet or computer. She said it's best to keep computers in common areas of the house, like the kitchen or living room, so parents can see who their children might be chatting with.

And most importantly, talk to you children about the dangers out there online and make sure they know to notify an adult if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or acts inappropriately.



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