CRIME WATCH: DHS unveils child predator app for iPhone - FOX 35 News Orlando

CRIME WATCH: DHS unveils child predator app for iPhone

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    REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Background resources

    Thursday, September 12 2013 10:04 PM EDT2013-09-13 02:04:57 GMT
    When I started reporting 25 years ago, finding background information on a suspect could certainly wear out the shoe leather. Here are my favorite places to go online. - Tom Lyden
    When I started reporting 25 years ago, finding background information on a suspect could certainly wear out the shoe leather. Here are my favorite places to go online. - Tom Lyden

Crime fighting is going high tech, and the Department of Homeland Security is joining the game with a new iPhone app that lets people know where some of the worst child predators may be.

It only took about 60 hours and $99 to develop the app. In terms of government efficiency, that may set some sort of record, and although it's the first app of its kind developed by a federal agency, it probably won't be the last.

For four long years, federal agents have been hunting Adney Allen, who is wanted for distributing thousands of images of child pornography. Turns out, he could be in our own backyard.

"He has a link to Minneapolis and North Dakota," Chris Oelkers said.

Now, he can also be on your iPhone. Operation Predator is a new app developed to alert people about the most-wanted child predators and allows users to e-mail or phone in anonymous tips.

"The iPhone and other iterations on other platforms will definitely reach a younger audience that predominantly uses smartphones as a way of life," Oelkers explained.

Operation Predator is hardly the only crime-fighting app. FOX 9 found a dozen that can provide information about registered sex offenders. All of it is based on public data as crime fighting catches up to the 21st century.

Last summer, federal authorities circulated a photograph of a teen wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey. Within 24 hours, they found him in Wisconsin. He was suspected of molesting a younger sibling. With tips at the touch of a finger, that time could be dramatically reduced.

Yet, there is still a ways to go. For now, Operation Predator doesn't use location services because of privacy concerns. Even so, federal agents say they have learned that their best chance of catching a predator comes by sharing what they now and going straight to the public for help.

"I think we are putting everything on the table, especially because we have everything to lose," Oelkers admitted.

Although the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs developed the app, they stress that it is not being used for any immigration purposes. In fact, that's why they are not using location data.

DOWNLOAD THE APP: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/operation-predator/id695130859?mt=8

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