Metro police seeing more cases of Internet sex crimes

Metro police seeing more cases of Internet sex crimes

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Roberto Cruz Roberto Cruz
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Metro police say they are catching more cyber criminals now than ever before, and they say it's thanks to a couple of helpful tools: money and power.

Detectives are using more of both to go after online predators, and what they've accomplished over the last year is pretty impressive. In fact, the numbers might just surprise you.

Last week, an off-duty Lewisburg police officer was at the Tennessee State Fair when he spotted a 15-year-old girl who had been missing for a week.

The teen said she was kidnapped at gunpoint and raped, and police have since charged Roberto Cruz with the crimes. They now know the two met online.

The Metro Nashville Police Department has an entire unit solely dedicated to finding Internet predators.

"It ultimately makes children inside Davidson County and, really, throughout the state safer," said Metro police Cpt. Preston Brandimore.

Last year, Metro's Internet crimes unit closed 16 cases. This year, they've already closed 42, and it's only September.

Brandimore credits grant money and the fact that this year they've doubled the number of detectives in the unit.

"Any time you can increase your manpower, obviously, that's more cases that you can look at," he said.

The more, the better, because often what starts as an online chat between a predator and a child ends with something far worse.

That's what police say happened between Cruz and the girl found at the fair.

And if detectives can help it, they don't want to see it happen ever again.

"If we can get at the ground floor and get that offender identified, located and arrested before anything of that extent happens, then that's a huge success," Brandimore said.

Police remind children that you never really know who you're talking to online and tell parents to know what your kids are up to on their phones, tablets and computers.

Metro police offers free online safety courses. To schedule one, call 615-862-7540.

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