Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12
Story By Lilly Zoller
Local News Published 10/06/2021 4:07PM, Last Updated 10/06/2021 7:39PM
Rhinelander – “That is what this is all about,” said Captain Terri Hook of the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. “Keeping our kids safe. That’s why we do this.”
“When we start to focus on this we can usually catch someone in a couple weeks, a couple of days, a couple of hours, so it is out there. It is ongoing,” said Hook.
Hook says it’s hard to say exactly how many predators there are in the Northwoods. She does know that with the pandemic leading to increased screen time, especially for kids, those predators have more access to potential victims.
“The scary part about that is that there are no statistics about kids that actually meet up with these adults that we have,” said Hook. “So kids could be meeting adults at this very moment and then they have an interaction and then they go back to their regular lives, and we don’t know that it’s actually happened.”
Hook says oftentimes these predators are repeat offenders. Just last year the Sheriff’s Office used one of their fake profiles to lure and arrest Richard Duellman. He’s a man with a pre-existing sex offender record.
“Even though you’ve already been arrested for child enticement or using a computer to facilitate a child crime, you’re still being arrested again for doing the same things,” said Hook.
Hook says predators often find children on social media, gaming, or dating apps that are designed for adults. She suggests parents keep a closer eye on what their kids are doing.
“I just ask parents to not feel as if they’re invading their kids’ privacy but instead thinking about their kids’ safety and that they take the time to look at their devices,” Hook said.