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Child porn investigation prompts police to warn public about their own internet applications

A current and ongoing child pornography investigation in the Trail area has RCMP warning residents and businesses alike how vulnerable they may be if their WIFI isn’t properly secured.

“We have a unit within the RCMP that monitors this kind of activity,” said Trail top cop Sgt. Mike Wicentowich. “They alerted us that it was going on in our area, and General Investigation Services Const. Jason Bilkie investigated, executing a search warrant (along with other RCMP members) April 5 at a residence located in the 3000 block of Highway Drive in Trail.”

He said police questioned two local people, a 27-year-old female and a 65-year-old male (one of whom was not a resident, but had access to the WIFI network) in regards to this investigation, and seized all the electronics from the residence. These electronics will also be searched.

“We are also looking for other suspects at this time – there’s a possibility that other people may have used that network,” he said. “At the time, (the two people) considered suspects.”

But, he said, the same thing could happen to you right now, if your network is unsecured or has an easy-to-guess password, or if you give out the password freely.

“In the end, even if you haven’t been up to anything, the police can still come with a search warrant, seize all of your electronics and search them,” he said. “There are people in the Trail area who will use unsecured networks for illicit purposes, to conduct criminal activity.”

He said businesses are not immune to this kind of depredation, and that he has seen people parked in front of businesses after hours using their laptops, presumably to piggyback on the business’ free WIFI.

“We’ve seen this kind of thing before – we track down the people who are doing it, but it takes more time.”

He said the consequences can be huge .

“A possession of child pornography convictionusually results in jail time,” he said. “This is a very, very serious investigation.

He added that people with unsecured networks are not only wreaking potential havoc in their own lives – they’re also slowing down police in catching the real perpetrators by setting themselves up as suspects requiring investigation - taking valuable time and resources from police that could be better used in hunting down actual bad guys.

“The days of sharing WIFI networks are probably over,” he said, adding there are better, safer options to use if, for example, you have a group of friends or family you want to have WIFI access when they visit. “There are devices that allow you to create a guest network with a different password, and you can turn it off and on anytime, from anywhere. I have one.”

He also noted that, while this investigation involves the Trail area in particular, everyone in B.C. should be aware - and wary.

The child pornography investigation is ongoing.