UPDATE--September 15th, 2010. Tulsa Police originially told FOX23 News the man in Pedobear costume at San Diego's Comic Con conference who was questioned by police was a registered sex offender. Today, Tulsa Police tell FOX23 News, they made a mistake and the man in the costume is not a registered sex offender. However, police say it is disturbing that someone would dress in a costume that makes fun of pedophiles and would give out free candy to children.
Potential child predators are playing dress up and police say parents need to know they’re out there.
"You have no idea who is behind the mask," says Tulsa Police Exploitation Sergeant John Adams. "These are pedophiles. These are people that prey on our children."
Law enforcement officers in San Diego kicked a man dressed as a Japanese cartoon character called Pedobear out of a family-friendly Comic Con conference.
FOX23’s Abbie Alford spoke with police on the reminder for parents to watch their kids closely.
In just a couple of weeks the Tulsa State Fair will kick off and attract thousands of children and possibly child predators.
Tulsa police say they will be looking for potential predators dressed in Pedobear costumes and so should parents.
There’s Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Chuck E. Cheese, clowns and now the Pedobear.
"I am watching everybody," says mother Kristin Weis.
Underneath the costume could be a child predator.
"You have no idea who is behind the mask," says Adams.
In San Diego at the Comic Con conference police say they found a man, dressed in the Pedobear suit and handing out free candy. He was asked to leave. Now, the San Luis Obisbo County sheriff's office has spread the word of warning to police departments across the nation, including TPD.
"Children love stuffed animals so one of these Pedobears is going to attract children to them and a parent that is not aware that this could be a pedophile making contact with my child and doesn't know any different and snap pictures and allow them to have a contact and that simple contact is what that pedophile needs to fulfill is fantasy for the day," says Adams.
The Pedobear is the latest meme or internet trend that has gone viral and pokes fun of child predators.
The Huffington Post says Pedobear is an internet creation meant as a joke but the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office in California which passed on the warning to law enforcement nationwide, says it is the symbolism that is disturbing.
"Some are claiming that this is an internet hoax but someone has taken it one step further," says Adams.
However, it is not just an image on your computer screen.
"They are getting stimulated by that one touch. You don’t see it we don't know it because they are hidden under that costume but that's their sexual stimulation,” says Weis who is also a member of Stop Child Trafficking Now an organization that advocates against child abuse and human slavery. "Keep your children away from these mascots. Keep your child away from people dressed up. Know who your child is around and know what they are doing," says Weis.
Police say pedophiles will use the Pedobear figure as a decal on their car window to signify a connection with other pedophiles.
"They use it on their cars so they can identify with each other, they will wear lapel pins," says Adams. “It offers them that sense of belonging in a group."
Tulsa Police say officers are monitoring Facebook and other social networking sites that identify with Pedobear and its fans.
Police will also be out investigating Pedobear at the Tulsa State Fair and during Halloween.
Among the groups police are monitoring is the North American Man/Boy Love Association, a group whose mission is to end age of consent laws.