KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A Missouri truck driver is taking the old “to catch a predator” model and turning up the dial.
Anthony Greene runs stings in his spare time. He lures suspected child molesters to motels and parking lots. The confrontations are live streamed on Facebook.
“Sometimes internet justice is better than police justice,” Greene said.
Greene and his crew call themselves, “Truckers against Predators” or TAP.
The group now boasts more than 73,000 Facebook followers and even has an anthem.
Local pastor shamed
TAP started up this summer and crossed KCTV5’s radar when a senior citizen who preaches in the Kansas City metro area was confronted in a St. Louis parking lot.
That man does not face any criminal charges but has faced an intense social shaming. The video of him has been viewed more than 300,000 times.
Man: I’m a pastor
TAP: You are a pastor? How is it being a pastor meeting a 14 year old?
Man: I want to counsel her. She’s talking
TAP: You told her a bunch of vile things!
Man: But I wouldn’t do that. I did that all just to council her. I really did
Man: I want to get her confidence
TAP: How many other kids have you done this to?
What happened next?
KCTV5 has been monitoring what happened next in the case. The TAP group told our investigative unit they turned over the incriminating logs needed to build a criminal case.
But almost a month has rolled by and there are still no charges. The police chief in charge the investigation explained he’s still trying to get information from TAP. His detectives still don’t have those important chat logs. So, they are stuck in a holding pattern.
KCTV5 also tracked down the man confronted in the parking lot. He said, “I’m no predator.”
He referred to what happened as a “scam” and said he was confused why police were not at the parking lot if this was a “real investigation.”
“I feel police departments are undermanned and overworked,” Greene said.
He says the work he does is dangerous so he’s now fundraising for a body camera and bullet-proof vest.
Many police departments in our area and across the state are aware of TAP. Some departments gratefully accept chat logs and videos but other departments are concerned about methods and Greene and his team used.
Greene admitted to our investigative team that departments across the entire state of California refuse to work with his team. He’s been successful in Arizona.
Charges and concerns in other cases
TAPS most recent success story is when they busted Joshua Mastin in a St. Louis area parking lot when tried to meet up with a 12-year-old.
Mastin faces charges of attempted statutory rape and child enticement.
That most recent bust shows what can happen with parking lot confrontations broadcast live through Facebook. A follower of TAP recognized the location and showed up to help confront Mastin.
That man screams obscenities and talks about shooting Mastin.
Greene had to hold that man back and the live confrontation abruptly stops as he manages the situation.
“I was trying to hold the guy back,” Greene explained to his followers in another Facebook Live. “If something would have happened, I’m liable! You know I could get in trouble. That guy gets shot. I’m the one who gets in trouble for that!”
Kansas City area defense attorney David Langston questions what will happen when TAP cases head to court.
“This will be attacked vigorously by any defense lawyer,” Langston said.
Langston says TAPS lack of formal training, evidence collection and motives will likely be criticized.
“You can’t put this video on and say ladies and gentlemen here’s our evidence!” Langston said. ”In my opinion, it’s reckless, it’s self-promoting. While the end result or goal is certainly laudable, the methods he’s using are not.”
Greene defends his work saying he knows it’s dangerous but if he saves one child, it’s all worth it.
“These people need to be exposed,” Greene said.