Grindr, Manhunt, Blendr: Police say predators are using apps to lure kids into sex

teen girl texting 205x205.jpg
"Strangers are using smartphone apps with GPS to track down children and have sex with them."

That's the word from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which want to warn parents about the dangers of smartphone apps such Grindr and Blendr, which allow adults to find other adults who want to hook up. But when adults use them to hook up with kids, it's illegal.

We spoke with Douglas County Undersheriff Tony Spurlock about the apps and his alarming warning.

"There are a number of sites that are legitimate adult sites that our young people are finding the ability to download on their smartphones," he explains. "And then what happens is, this is a great predator opportunity."

Most of the sites, including Grindr and Manhunt (which cater to men) and Blendr (which caters to both men and women), are free. They require users to be eighteen years old, but like most social media, they have no way to verify if a user is lying about his or her age.

"If (kids) are exploring their sexuality and get on these sites and think, 'I'm big enough to handle this,' and then something happens, you can't undo that," Spurlock says.

Thumbnail image for Michael Petramala mug shot.jpg
Michael Petramala.
He wouldn't comment on specific criminal cases involving the apps or whether any particular crimes prompted the public warning. We've written about a few such cases, including that of Michael Petramala, a school janitor who was arrested for "attempting to meet with two girls under the age of fifteen by means of Internet and social media for sex."

But Spurlock did say that adults who exchange naked photos with teens or meet them for sex could face charges such as child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.

"If law enforcement knows about it and if we want to get the press to educate parents, obviously it's a concern," he says. "We're not at liberty to discuss any criminal cases or...investigations. If children are involved, we have to protect the children."

Spurlock adds that most of the apps allow users to look at photos of other users and "you can tell by looking at a number of them, these children were not eighteen years old."

Parents should pay more attention to the apps their kids are downloading, Spurlock says. "If you've got a child under eighteen with a smartphone and you're paying the bill and they're living in your home, you should say, 'I want to take a look at it,'" he says.

If parents find apps like Grindr on their kids' phones, he suggests they delete them and then ask their teenagers the tough questions: Have you sent photographs of yourself to anyone you met through the app? Have you met in person with anyone?

"We are totally happy to be part of the conversation," he adds.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Michael Petramala, school janitor, allegedly wanted boozy teen lingerie party, got jail instead."


Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com


My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Uh-oh...here' comes "stranger danger" again!

Boys and girls: the vast majority of molestations are committed by someone who knows the child or the child's family--infamously step-parents.

rickgary
rickgary

State budget money must be up for grabs if CO law enforcement suddenly discovered social media

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

There would be a lot less loser out there is you just start shooting them out back of the court house as soon as they are convicted of sex crimes.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

It's very near coming to the point of considering a form of arming the children for protection .

Tazors, or somekind of spray . The key is educating & enriching the 'weapons' sole uses and getting the kids to respond positively & RESPONSIBLY, to the instruction .

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Cognitive_Dissident  QUIT STATING FACTS !!!

While they only get a slap on the wrist til the state has determined treatment isn't working and sends them to prison under PROTECTIVE CUSTODY !!!

Plants are looking great !  Thanks again, friend !

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@JimTom   Did you know Colorado has the highest percentage of sex-offenders both incarcerated and walking among us freely, per capita ? 

FACT !!! I worked for a private company that owns & operates several 1/2 way houses in the metro area . I worked w/ men coming out of prison requiring assistance with reentry back into society  . The job was short lived strictly due to my refusal to work w/ Sex Offenders . (S.O.'s) I was privy to limited 'residents' paperwork, which was how I learned who was who as well as why they were incarcerated in the 1st place .

When I sat in on 'group treatment' sessions, I liked to shake the hands of everyone present & trying to retain freedom in life by changing the way they lived . For so many it was simply saying, "NO !", to drugs AND NOT TO DRINK !

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

Sorry NUT-TAPPER!!!!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...