(CBS4) – Thomas Fellowes, 39, of Westminster, owns a window cleaning company – but right now he’s more concerned with wiping out online predators.
“There are too many out there,” said Fellowes. “So I want to do that.”
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About three months ago, Fellowes put his business on hold and decided to spend all of his time “stinging” online predators to lure kids into sexually charged meetings.
He founded Colorado Ped Patrol and boasts of having confronted about 90 men in the past three months – all of whom thought they were going to meet a teenage boy or girl.
Fellowes says about a dozen of the men were arrested and charged by Front Range law enforcement.
“I can go online and catch a guy in an hour,” he said.
“I absolutely love it, I love it,” said Fellowes just before going on another “stab” last month.
Typically he goes on various social media sites posing as teenagers or girls and says that men make contact, discuss sexual relations with the supposed teen, send or request inappropriate photos, and arrange a meeting. Fellowes keeps a record of all of these texts or chats.
But when the men show up, they are confronted by Fellowes and his supporters – who live stream the confrontations to thousands of followers via Youtube.
He often elicits confessions from men about what they were trying to do. In many cases, the group of Fellowes contacts the police, who sometimes make an arrest. He usually gives all of his evidence to police authorities who are aware of his efforts. Fellowes said that the first day he tried a “stab” he “caught” three people. Another day he said he had caught four men.
While the Lakewood police arrested one of the men who “caught” Fellowes, they have a dire view of what he’s doing.
“I have concerns about these vigilantes,” said Commander Randy McNitt, who oversees his department’s investigation.
“There are some real safety concerns … we have no control over the communications or evidence they receive,” McNitt said. “I think it’s a bad idea. I think a vigilante group is fraught with danger. “
McNitt said a good result, such as an arrest, does not justify the methods used by the Fellowes’ group.
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Other police agencies echoed McNitt’s views. Although Broomfield Police have appeared and arrested several men confronted by Fellowes, the department’s Public Information Officer Rachel Welte said:
“While we appreciate Mr. Fellowes’ good intentions, the Broomfield Police Department strongly recommends that community members contact local law enforcement if they suspect or know of illegal activity on the internet or elsewhere, and the police To allow investigations.
“Confronting potential suspects without the involvement of official law enforcement agencies poses legal and physical risk to individuals. We do not endorse Mr. Fellowes, his actions or the content of his YouTube channel, or anyone else involved in similar actions. “
Fellowes told CBS4 that the police advised him not to do what he was doing when he started this project.
“It’s a cop job,” he admits. “But they are overwhelmed – there are too many people out there.”
After an interview with CBS4, Fellowes and a friend traveled to a nearby park where a 22-year-old man dated a 14-year-old girl named “Alicia”.
In reality, Fellowes had pretended to be Alicia online and had communicated online with the 22-year-old man for several days prior to the meeting.
From a distance, CBS4 watched the man arrive at the park on schedule. Fellowes streamed the confrontation with the man who sent a picture of his alleged genitals to “Alicia”. The man had spoken about his lack of sex diseases and various sexual acts in which he was interested.
When confronted, the man claimed it was his first attempt to meet an underage girl. Fellowes says virtually every man he faces claims it is their first time.
After speaking with Fellowes for a few minutes, the man ran to his car and drove off – while Fellowes continued to stream live on YouTube.
CBS4 confirmed that three of the men Fellowes recently “stabbed” had been arrested and charged – and one of them was a former sex offender, according to court records.
Fellowes said he has no intention of stepping down from his vigilante takedowns.
“Those we catch,” he said, “are not innocent.”
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McNitt said what Fellowes and his group are doing should remind parents to be vigilant about who their children are communicating with online.