How to Run a ‘To Catch a Predator’ Sting in Five Easy Steps

Here's how Detroit father Antoine Martin took matters into his own hands when he suspected someone was attempting to prey on his 13-year-old daughter.

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Online sexual predators are among every parent’s worst fears, and protecting children from them is difficult — by the time a parent learns of the issue it can often be too late. But one Detroit father decided to take matters into his own hands to keep his 13-year-old daughter safe from a man who was allegedly seeking to take advantage of her.

Antoine Martin told WJBK-TV that he suspected a one-time volunteer for a local youth organization was attempting to lure his daughter. But Martin set up a sting operation that turned the tables on the alleged child predator, and delivered the unnamed suspect into the custody of the Detroit Police.

Here’s how Martin saved his daughter “To Catch a Predator” style, in five easy steps:

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1) Be Vigilant.

Martin, who kept careful track of his daughter’s social media activities, had seen inappropriate messages on her Facebook page — which turned out to be from a man who had contacted her at the local Boys and Girls Club where she went after school. “Just like I suspected, he escalated it and went from just talking to her, being a ‘big brother’ type, to saying he wanted to be her secret boyfriend and that he wanted to have sexual relations with her, how sexy she was,” Martin told WJBK-TV.

2) Throw Out Some Bait.
Martin’s family had been involved for years with the Boys and Girls Club, and he had actually met the 22-year-old suspect there when the man had been a volunteer. So Martin — who now had an idea of who he was dealing with and what his intentions were — concocted a plan to catch him. He would pose as his daughter on Facebook over the course of a few weeks and find out if his suspicions were confirmed.

3) Set a Trap — But Be Careful.
Posing as his daughter, Martin ultimately invited the unwitting man to his home for a visit. When he arrived, Martin was ready for him. “Once he came and walked in the house, I grabbed him, grabbed him and held him for the police,” Martin explained. The suspect was reportedly carrying condoms in his pocket. Martin then turned on a video camera and got a confession out of the alleged predator, which WJBK-TV broadcast in its interview with him:

MARTIN: Tell me why you came here today? Tell the truth.

SUSPECT: I came here because I thought [Martin’s daughter] wanted to be my girlfriend. So I came here to spend time with her.

MARTIN: And do what?

SUSPECT: And to have sex with her.

SUSPECT: I do not want this to go onto the Boys and Girls Club.  I do not want this to go public, man.  I’m sorry.  I swear to God I’m sorry.”

4) Know the Law.

Martin had earlier looked up the Michigan Penal Code for citizens’ arrests and followed them to the letter. He also had witnesses present, and was careful not to coerce a confession out of the suspect. However, Charlie Langdon, a legal expert, told WJBK-TV that the confession could possibly be challenged in court. “Can the father do what he did?  The short answer is yes.  Now, does the suspect have some rights?  Yes.  I would say the first thing would be entrapment.”

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5) Inform the Police as Soon as Possible.
After the confession, Martin promptly called Detroit police and explained the whole story. Cops took the suspect into custody, where he awaits arraignment. Martin also gave copies of the online conversations he had with the man while posing as his daughter to the police as well. A spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan said the suspect has not been a volunteer there in three years and that they conduct background checks of all their staff.

“Just being around the kids, you’re supposed to be there to help the kids… to me it seems like he was taking it as an opportunity,” said Martin.  “It’s not just for my daughter, it’s for my daughter’s friends, the other members of the club. I had to make sure that this stops.”

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