COVID-19 increases concerns over masked child trafficking suspects

There's a viral social media post warning parents that children are at a higher risk of being abducted by traffickers wearing masks since they say the suspects can't easily be identified.

Posted: Jul 31, 2020 2:43 PM
Updated: Jul 31, 2020 4:33 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - There's a viral social media post warning parents that children are at a higher risk of being abducted by traffickers wearing masks since they say the suspects can't easily be identified.

However, the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department says that's not necessarily the case. Deputies say solving a child sex trafficking crime when the suspect is wearing a mask is similar to investigating bank robberies when the suspect is often wearing a face covering as well.

The department says while a mask can offer some extra coverage there are more identifying features such as their hair, height, clothing, and voice as well as the car they drive and the direction they takeoff in.

Most of that information can be found by viewing surveillance footage which is much more common these days.

Capt. Scott Behrns explained, "In this day and age there's almost video everywhere, almost, so that's a big part of it too. So, we can get a lot of things from video, we can get a lot of things from witnesses."

Behrns says parents can also help by teaching their kids to be more mindful of who and what is around them.

He added, "Be mindful of where they're at and how you get a hold of them. In this day and age a lot of kids, depending on the age, have phones that are paid for by mom and dad and parents need to remember they're paying for that phone and that means that mom and dad can get into the phone. Track that phone."

The department says deputies don't want to take away from parent's concerns but Behrns doesn't want anyone to get caught up in misinformation online.

The sheriff's department says you can go to the FBI's page to find helpful tips about how to protect your kids from predators or use the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Ramsey10166314
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Scott230532
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Nobles191216
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Todd4712
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Otter Tail3544
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Marshall481
Mahnomen421
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Traverse290
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Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 76376

Reported Deaths: 1239
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk14932255
Johnson488827
Woodbury467459
Black Hawk424384
Linn3615101
Story319917
Dallas262838
Scott260026
Dubuque250140
Buena Vista191312
Pottawattamie188137
Marshall174934
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Webster117414
Muscatine105052
Clinton101818
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Crawford9354
Warren9146
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Jasper70732
Marion6834
Tama67630
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Lee5697
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Dickinson4596
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Boone4316
Washington41411
Louisa41214
Franklin32917
Hamilton3113
Mahaska30819
Delaware3053
Floyd2773
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Hardin2651
Benton2571
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Butler2502
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