MOUNT HOLLY, NJ—Burlington County law enforcement authorities are urging parents to be vigilant, as they warn of an uptick in online predators as more children are spending time on electronic devices.
Calling it “mind blowing”, Detective Sergeant Dave Kohler, who runs the high-tech crime lab for the County Prosecutor’s Office, says the number of online predators “coming out of the woodwork” during quarantine is on the rise.
Describing them as “people stuck at home for a long period of time with a lot of time on their hands,” Sgt. Kohler said “the numbers are up significantly. We almost can’t even keep up.”
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said that statewide referrals of cyber tips have gone up 125% from March through August. In the last two months, his office’s high-tech crimes unit executed eleven search warrants, made ten arrests and has another ten cases pending. Coffina says that combating these predators must extend beyond his office and into each child’s home.
Noting that children are spending more and more time on electronic devices and are using apps, websites and video games like Fortnite that offer chat features that make it easier for online predators to find them, Coffina is urging parents to listen up and get involved.
“We need to do our job relentlessly, but the parents need to do their job relentlessly also,” Coffina said.
The Prosecutor’s office is urging parents to use helpful resources to educate themselves, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, ConnectSafely.org and the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.