Online Babysitter Ads Could Put Green Country Parents, Kids At Risk

Wednesday, March 23rd 2011, 6:39 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Parents are posting pictures of their kids on Craigslist.

A viewer emailed News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright after she saw several photos of children in ads for people either looking for a babysitter or looking for a babysitting job.

News On 6 reporter Lori Fullbright found many, many ads on Craigslist of people in Green Country looking for a babysitter or nanny.  Many of them posted a picture of the child that needed the sitter.

One ad features a one-year-old who needs a sitter in April for a couple of months.  Another couple also had pictures of their three-year-old and 14-month-old sons, saying they need a sitter Monday through Friday.

Corporal Greg Smith with the Tulsa Police Department was pretty surprised when he learned of the practice.

"The danger I see with putting children up there is if a predator is cruising them, looking for victims," he said. "Now, we have a photograph where they can see someone who interests them. That in itself is a bit of a dangerous situation."

One young girl posted an ad offering to babysit for others and posted pictures of some of the kids she's kept in the past. Another couple offering their services showed a picture of their home.

Detectives say with just a little information in your ad, a predator can likely find your name and address and more.

"It's not like posting pictures on a social media site, where you can restrict who views them. In an ad or ad website, it's open to everyone," Corporal Smith said.

Corporal Smith says once you've met and interviewed and done a background check on the potential babysitter, then and only then, should the candidate know what your kids look like.

"You don't' need to be paranoid. Most people who answer your ads are probably trustworthy," he said. "The downside is the people who are not trustworthy and might want to harm your kids also use those sites."

News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright emailed several of the mothers who posted pictures and only one emailed her back. She says she put her sons' pictures in the ad, so people would know it's a real ad, not some type of scam.

She meets the candidates with her husband in public, does a background check and a thorough interview before they meet her kids.