Greeley, CO – A citizen group called Hunted and Confronted caught a registered sex offender in a sting operation, and turned him over to police (video below).
It all began on July 8 when Jesse Weeks, who runs the vigilante group committed to catching sexual predators, and a female decoy set up an account on the “Just Say Hi” app.
The decoy got her 21-year-old cousin’s permission to use her photo, but said she was 18 in her profile and went by the name “Grace.”
Travis Benson, a 30-year-old registered sex offender, made contact with “Grace” and exchanged phone numbers. At that point, the decoy told Benson she was really only 15 years old.
“Do you like older men?” Benson asked her.
Then he told her a little bit about his past.
“I am going to be real with you I was with a 15-year-old and her mommy and daddy said it was cool and then they wanted me to sell drugs and I told them no and I went to prison for eight years and now I have to register as a sex offender,” Benson said, according to KUSA-TV.
The pair planned a meeting in person and discussed getting a motel room.
“Yeah, I hope I won’t get in trouble again,” Benson told the decoy.
Benson and “Grace” arranged to meet at a gas station on July 11, and that’s where the charade ended.
Weeks was waiting for the child predator when he arrived, and contacted police. Then he proceeded to livestream Benson’s arrest on Facebook with a running narrative.
“I called police, let them know what I had, date of birth, full name,” Weeks said. “Greeley police, I have to say, responded extremely fast and they did an excellent job.”
Benson, who has already served eight years in prison in Wyoming for a 2008 conviction for having a sexual relationship with another 15-year-old girl, was arrested at the gas station, KUSA reported.
“That guy, that’s his third strike,” Weeks gleefully told his audience in the video. “And you know what that means? That means he’s doing 25. Colorado law. Minimum!”
Benson quickly admitted his crime once he was in custody.
“I guess … I’m a f--k up,” Benson told police when they arrested him.
Officers asked him why he would say that.
“Why am I a f--k up? Because I’m a piece of s--t sex offender,” Benson told police.
Benson also admitted that under the conditions of his parole, he was prohibited from having a device capable of getting Internet access, KUSA reported.
He was charged with criminal attempt to commit obscenity and attempted sexual assault. He was held in jail on a $10,000 bond, according to the Greeley Tribune.
Weld County Jail records showed Benson told police he was homeless and living in a mental health facility before his arrest.
Weeks proudly said Benson was the third person to be arrested due to the efforts of his Hunted and Confronted group. He is a truck driver who goes after child sex offenders in his spare time, KUSA reported.
“You know, if it helps one family or helps one child, why not?” Weeks said.
Despite the success of the Hunted and Confronted sting, the Greeley police cautioned other citizens not to take justice into their own hands, KUSA reported.
“I feel like it’s more dangerous for people like him to be out on the streets,” Weeks countered. “That was our first arrest. We’ve done a total of five busts now in a matter of two weeks.”
Watch the child sex predator get arrested in the video below: