Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not In My Backyard? Better Look It Up Online

I don't know how many of my Bay Head and Mantoloking neighbors were aware that Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series used a Mantoloking beach house and local young adult decoys for a sex sting operation. In April 2007, twenty-eight (28) men were arrested after coming in from around the country and going to to the oceanfront home with intentions of having sex with a child. Prosecutors said the suspects range in age from 21 to 60 and include a convicted sex offender, an Air Force mechanic, and a school bus driver from Philadelphia. The show highlights the sting operation that catches men who have arranged to meet up in a Mantoloking home for what they think will be a sexual encounter with an underage girl or boy. Instead, Dateline NBC's Chris Hansen is waiting for them, complete with video cameras and police.

When I first heard about the Mantoloking sex sting from one of our friends, it got me thinking about the safety of my children and I looked up the areas surrounding our beach house and our year-round home up north in an online Sex Offender Registry. Thanks to Megan's Law, convicted sex offenders are required to register their whereabouts, and the directories share some of the details of their arrests, preferences, and how they typically lure their victims.

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