Even with Craigslist personals section out, police warn parents about online predators

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO - Craigslist recently shut down its personals section. But even with the change, police say families need to be on guard for sexual predators.

The move by Craigslist came after Congress passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which is intended to combat child sex trafficking by holding websites more accountable for content posted by users.

St. Louis County Police Department Officer Benjamin Granda said Craigslist was the source of many local cases involving sexual predators.

“That’s a where a lot of this activity was taking place,” he said. “When Craigslist got rid of their personals section, that was a pretty big deal.”

Recently, a Ladue man was charged with enticement or attempted of a minor.  The alleged incident happened in late 2017 before the personals section shut down.

Police report that the man, 34, posted an ad on Craigslist for a “taboo” sexual relationship. He appeared at a designated location to meet the person with whom he was corresponding.

Problems still persist, Granda said. Predators will use other sites and platforms to lure victims.

Some warning signs for parents, from St. Louis County Police:

  • Children spend large amounts of time online
  • You find pornography, private email, and chats on your computer
  • Suspicious long distance phone calls on your telephone bill
  • Unknown phone numbers on your mobile phone
  • Your child uses someone else’s online account or a hidden account

Parents are urged to talk to their children, set clear limits on online use and encourage their children to share what they are doing online. Also, keep the computer in a common area and review the contents of the computer on a regular basis.

“Hopefully people aren’t overly comfortable with their, or their kids’ use of the internet. The communication, the ease of it. You can access most people, most anywhere,” Granda said.