1 Mar 2024

Man arrested after allegedly targeting young people online, trying to meet with 14yo

1:51 pm on 1 March 2024
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Photo: 123rf.com

A man has been arrested after allegedly targeting young people online, including offering to buy them gift vouchers in exchange for sexual activity.

The 49-year-old contacted "a number" of young people, under the age of 16, through social media, police said.

A concerned parent reported the matter to police on 26 February and the man was arrested while travelling to the Auckland Domain on Thursday.

Police said he planned to meet a 14-year-old girl there.

The man was due to appear in the Auckland District Court on Friday.

Detective sergeant Rich Veacock said police were still investigating and could not rule out further charges.

"We understand the damage and impact this offending can have on our communities and we want to reassure the public we will continue to hold these offenders to account for their actions."

Police were also ensuring a welfare plan was in place for the young people involved, Veacock said.

"We will continue to ensure there is appropriate support available moving forward."

Veacock praised the parent who reported their concerns to police and urged other parents to trust their gut feeling if they thought something was wrong.

"The timely reporting of this incident allowed Police to identify the alleged offender and make an arrest within a matter of days," Veacock said.

"We are asking our parents and caregivers to please listen to their intuition, know what their children are doing online, and don't hesitate to contact authorities if they have any concerns.

"We are also encouraging anyone who might have information that may assist the investigation further to get in contact with us, or if they wish to discuss any matters relating to this offending."

Police could be contacted anytime by calling 105 or by going online to https://www.police.govt.nz/105support, Veacock said.

Information could also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Additional resources were available at https://www.netsafe.org.nz/make-a-plan/.

Where to get help for sexual violence

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): 04 801 6655 - push 0 at the menu

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334

Male Survivors Aotearoa

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) 022 344 0496