BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — An amateur “sting operation” allegedly set up to catch child sex predators created a problematic scenario for Berkeley Police Department officers.
“The Berkeley Police Department takes crime seriously and we encourage the public to come forward with information about crime or the potential for crime. When private persons attempt to conduct their own stings/investigations … it presents a unique challenge for law enforcement,” BPD wrote on Twitter.
“Recently a video was reposted online by a person or group who conducted some sort of sting operation in Berkeley — arranging to meet someone who they alleged was a child predator,” police wrote.
The amateur “sting” happened in June, but video of the incident was reposted online recently and BPD received several questions from the public.
The “To Catch A Predator” style video claims to show a person who thought they were exchanging sexually explicit text messages with a nine-year-old girl. A man in the video confronts the person with copies of the allegedly incriminating text messages.
One website that posted the video states, “Predator hunters caught a … pedophile red-handed with intent to molest three children. Berkeley Police allowed the suspect to walk away from the sting, and have yet to press any charges. The pedo was let go.”
Berkeley police officers said they conducted an investigation into the accused person and interviewed the accuser. Since then, the accuser has not cooperated with law enforcement, according to BPD.
“After being notified about the incident, which occurred in June, officers responded to the location, spoke to the reporting party, the person alleged to have committed the crime, and investigated the incident. Officers followed-up with the reporting party to verify/corroborate their claims, but the reporting party has not re-contacted us with information we have requested to continue to the investigation—despite repeated requests,” the Berkeley Police Department wrote.
Police said concerned members of the public who have information about any suspected criminals should report it directly to a law enforcement agency.
In an emergency, call 911. To connect directly with the Berkeley Police Department from your cellphone for an emergency, call 510-981-5911. A dispatcher will ask you questions about what happened, who is involved, where the incident is occurring, and other details to assess how urgently police response is needed and how many officers to send.
For non-urgent crimes, the public is asked to file a report online.