CORVALLIS, Ore. — Corvallis police arrested a Keizer man Wednesday in an online sting after they say he tried to contact a teenage girl for sex.
Police say Darren Patrick Reames, 40, was speaking to whom he thought was a female juvenile from Corvallis on an online social network. But it was really an undercover police detective.
Police say when he first initiated contact with whom he thought was a 15-year-old girl online on May 29, his messages immediately became sexual. They say he made arrangements to meet with her for sex on June 4. While he was waiting for her, police arrested him on several charges.
The case is part of the police department’s undercover operation to find sexual predators who are initiating contact with whom they think are Corvallis juveniles.
“We have profiles out there that these folks who are out there looking for children can approach and initiate contact with us,” said Lt. Cord Wood with the Corvallis Police Department. “We always allow the offenders to initiate contact with us. We’re not out there actively looking for them or initiating conversations with folks. They come to us.”
The undercover operation started about a year ago.
“We were getting tips on a regular basis about individuals making contact with children in our community,” Wood said. “Law enforcement needs to be proactive in protecting children as technology advances.”
Now, a year later, police are still cracking down. Wood says predators from across the country have contacted the department’s undercover profiles, so the detectives are working with other agencies around the country. He says in Corvallis, police have arrested at least nine people. Nationwide, there have been about 18 cases where predators have initiated conversation with Corvallis undercover detectives.
Wood says each arrest is a good reminder for parents to monitor their kids’ social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites or apps that connect them with the rest of the world.
“They’ve got to be nosy,” he said. “They’ve got to be involved in their kids’ lives and know who they’re talking to, when they’re doing it, and how they’re doing it. They’ve got to really be nosy.”
Police say not only is it a good idea for parents to communicate with their children about social media, but to also check their privacy settings. Who can see the profiles? Are they private or public for the rest of the world to see?
Parents KEZI 9 News spoke with on Thursday say they feel more comfortable that police have set up these undercover profiles.
“I think it’s probably a good idea,” said Abby Gratreak, who has two young children. “How you find people who are being inappropriate online and how you censor that is really difficult, so I like that they are doing something.”
Her husband, Grant Gratreak, agrees.
“I would prefer them doing something rather than nothing,” he said. “As a parent it’s something that you need to monitor and watch. The Internet is a big place and it’s a place that a lot of people have access to.”
The Gratreak kids don’t have social media accounts yet, but their parents are already thinking about what to do when that time comes.
“You wouldn’t just let anybody in your front door, and I don’t think that you should just let anybody into your life on the Internet or let your entire life be on the Internet,” Grant Gratreak said. “So I think that it’s something that needs to be watched, especially since it’s easier to keep track of someone that’s on your front lawn rather than somebody who could be watching your kids on the Internet.”
Reames is facing multiple charges, including the Online Corruption of a Minor in the First Degree, Online Corruption of a Minor in the Second Degree, and Luring a Minor. His bail is set for $225,000.