New Zealand Child Picked Up at Home by Chatroom Stranger; Police File Charges of Sexual Grooming

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A 12-year-old girl from New Zealand has left her home in the company of a male stranger she only "met" in an online chat room. The stranger had travelled hundreds of kilometres to just to pick up the young girl.

The 18-year-old boy is facing charges of sexual grooming after he was reportedly spotted driving off with the girl. According to local reports, police had returned the child home after charging the young man for travelling to meet a young person. He was also charged of indecent assault.

The young girl's mother said she was afraid of what happened during Anzac Day on April 25 that she was forced to cut off their Internet connection at home.

The chatroom stranger reportedly came from the Bay of Plenty to pick up the child from her Wairarapa home. They had met six months earlier in an Internet chatroom Omegle.

According to Senior Sergeant Jymahi Glassey, Omegle is website that features the tagline "talk to strangers." The site allows users to chat with randomly selected people without revealing their true identities. The chatroom is meant for people aged over 18.

The mother of the young girl said she was at home about 6:30 pm when a visitor told her about spotting her daughter getting into the car with a stranger before driving away.  The family then alerted the police and the vehicle containing the girl was tracked down within an hour.

The girl's mother said she had no idea where her daughter could have gone and knew nothing about the man she met. She said it was a terrifying feeling knowing the girl had climbed out the window of her room to meet a stranger.

The young man was willing to cooperate with the police. Mr Glassey said he is due to appear in Masterton District Court on the first week of May.

The New Zealand mother encouraged other parents to talk to their children about being wary of strangers they meet online. She also warned parents that younger kids with access to the Internet may begin to explore "risky" websites.

The Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand unit spokesman said police were hunting those who are prowling the Internet for the chance to victimise children.

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