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Published March 12, 2013, 09:48 PM

Catching Online Predators - How Police Find Those That Prey on Children

Grand Forks police had some outside help investigating the Jeremy Thompson case. Police say, as part of the initial investigation, a California company was ordered to search all of Thompson's emails and other internet accounts for other possible evidence of crimes.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Grand Forks police had some outside help investigating the Jeremy Thompson case. Police say, as part of the initial investigation, a California company was ordered to search all of Thompson's emails and other internet accounts for other possible evidence of crimes.

We talked with police today about how they gather evidence to bring in a online predator. One of the ways police nab those luring minors online is posing as minor.

Jim Remer, Grand Forks Police: "You never know who is on the other end of the computer."

So beware to those adults making sexual advances and looking to hook up with potential minors. Police are becoming tech savvy to catch online predators.

LaVonne Nelson, Community Recourse Bureau: "We have software that gets us into the history of the cell phones, we can view pictures, websites. We can view chats and messages. Anything you can do on a laptop, you can do on a cell phone, we can get to it."

And what local law enforcement lack in resources, they can find in other places. Nelson says they often ask the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation which has advanced training and software to pull the evidence from devices. Sometimes the toughest part is the race again the clock.

Nelson: "A text message or a picture message, a few days and it's gone. We need to be able to be contacted right away so that we can send letters to the cell phone or internet provider and capture that so we don't lose the evidence."

Officer Nelson, who has posed as a 13 or 14-year-old girl online says predators can be very convincing and close by.

Nelson: "We thought we would be getting the guys from down south, north, or east or whatever, we didn't think we would be getting them from Grand Forks, ND and we have."

Nelson says parents can help protect their children by monitoring the websites they visit and by keeping the computer in a common living space, so parents can monitor online activities.

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