How was "caught in the act," and is their activity legal?

At the end of 2014, Avi Dubitzky returned to the US, the land of his birth, after 26 years in Israel. “I’m fed up,” he says, “it was a crazy mental burden. You are not only fighting against the criminals, but also against the system. The police don’t answer the phone when people call, and I’m the one who spurred them to do capture operations, the one who made everyone start waking up. Today in Israel there is a crazy situation where convicted pedophiles can change their name, marry someone and rape her children. Members of Knesset made promises to me and do nothing, I see people I corresponded with and were caught returning to the same chat and continuing to correspond with children”​

They were caught red-handed, born thanks to A. a high school student. "A year ago, I would occasionally go into a chat where I knew people from all over the world," he says, "once someone from Israel contacted me. At first we were just talking, but then he opened a camera and asked if I was horny and wanted to undress. I was just with friends on Skype , who saw it and said to me, 'Let's go, it will be funny.'

Why did you keep talking to him?
"At first it was interesting and even funny to see that there was such a person, but then I thought that I must not be the first to talk to him like that." A. saved the conversations and screenshots from Skype, and a month later gathered courage and called the police. "After 20 minutes, two people came to my house police officers My mother was shocked."

Your parents didn't know anything?
"I only told them what I did after the cops left. They didn't understand and asked if I was gay."

What happened after the police arrived?

"They told me to come file a complaint. When I got to the station I told them that I had planned to meet with that man and call the police when he arrived, but they told me not to do that and that they would handle him alone. Then I realized that the police came to his house, and the punishment he received was a 30-day removal order from me. Like, it's okay for him to be in contact with other children, just not with me."
A month later, A came across Avi Dubitsky's post. "I wrote to him in private that I wanted to help, he explained to me how to talk to the pedophiles, and then I started volunteering as part of the page. I go into one of the chats and wait for someone to contact me. When that happens, I tell him I'm 11 years old. If he says he's horny and wants to meet , we switch to WhatsApp or Skype. I already had a few ideas."
אבי דוביצקי - תפיסה הראשונה של נתפסו על חם
Avi Dubitsky - the first perception of being caught red-handed

How the method works: The people behind the Facebook page "Caught in the act" pose as children, set up meetings with pedophiles, invite the police and film everything for their tens of thousands of followers. They have already caught dozens of suspects, but fear revenge, feel that the police see them as a nuisance, and above all live with the feeling that anyone might turn out to be a monster.
"I don't do things like that, I just wanted to get to know the boy," says a young man to the camera, "Talking to a boy is not a violation of the law." The photographer shows him nude photos he sent to the 13-year-old boy on WhatsApp, alongside correspondence in which he told him how he was planning sleep with him. "You're attracting me, prepare all your fantasies, until your parents come back you can kiss and get horny," they read. "It's embarrassing that you're doing this," says the guy and points to the phone that's filming him. "Is it embarrassing?" she asks The same someone, "And what did you want to do to a child that isn't embarrassing?".

This kid doesn’t really exist. Behind the WhatsApp chats and conversations that the suspect of pedophilia had with him is one of the people of “Caught red-handed” – a group of about 20 volunteers who joined together to capture pedophiles who operate online. The volunteers impersonate children in chats, ambush suspects who start a conversation with them and offer to meet, and when they reach the meeting point – surround them, don’t let them escape, interrogate them until the police arrive, and upload the full documentation.

More than 150 thousand people follow this page, which was opened five years ago. Watching the videos he uploads is an unpleasant experience, to put it mildly: to date, close to 30 people have come to the filmed meetings, thinking that a child is waiting for them alone at home. Their faces are indeed blurred, but you can tell that they look normal. An officer, a cook, a dance teacher, a ZAKA volunteer, a children’s soccer team coach – all these people get up one morning and go to sleep with an 11 or 13-year-old boy. Some have traveled hours by bus to get to the meeting, some come to it equipped with lubricant. All insist that they “just wanted to talk to the boy” and that they would never hurt him. The phrase “I don’t do things like that” is repeated over and over again.

Take for example the case of the 23-year-old boy who was caught near Jerusalem, when he arrived for a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old. He told the volunteers who interrogated him that he worked in the entertainment team at a hotel in Eilat. “There are a lot of children there, it’s dangerous,” commented the volunteer, and the suspect replies “Okay, I’m not a pedophile.” “You’re not a pedophile?”, the shocked volunteer asks him, “You came to sleep with a 14-year-old boy, and you really believe you’re not a pedophile?”

The father who said “children are my deviation”

It is not difficult to understand how “Caught red-handed” became one of the most popular Facebook pages in Israel in recent months, whose videos – although the faces of the volunteers and suspects are blurred – reach tens of thousands of views. It is also not difficult to understand what motivates parents of children, as well as ordinary people, to take the law into their own hands and capture pedophiles online. Although the police work in the field,

“Caught red-handed” is the first widespread organization to actively catch pedophiles online. Its members live in chat rooms of sites like “Total Chat” and Poz, which, contrary to what one might think are popular even in 2017, come to meetings in groups and conduct quasi-police investigations. A kind of alternative pedophile police.

The interview to establish the page came from a high school student who contacted Avi Dubitsky, who was nicknamed “the pedophile hunter”. Dubitzky, was for years a one-man show. He would pretend to be a minor in chat rooms, set up meetings with those who talked to them – and there he would wait for them in a mobile phone, with Dubitsky standing by and filming everything. In the previous round, this project ended when Avi Dubitsky left the country at the end of 2014. Today Avi is the team manager from Miami, Florida in the USA.

Avi Dubitzky says ‘It can’t be that all the work I did will go down the drain’. I have volunteers now, I don’t have to do it alone, I don’t have to give testimonies. We are the only ones who do such a thing, except for the volunteers and me, no one is willing to risk it. Everyone is afraid of lawsuits, of revenge.”

What still surprises Dubitzky, even after quite a few years as a “pedophile hunter”, is that many of the people he catches don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. “They live in denial, like alcoholics,” he is convinced, “some of them have families, you would never guess such things about them in life. There are also those who understand that they are doing something immoral and illegal, and that doesn’t stop them. I once caught someone trying to meet a boy He is 14 years old, and he said that he has already met with many children. He said, ‘This is my deviation.’ I asked how he would feel if someone met with one of his own children, and he answered, ‘Good question.'”

Avi Dubitsky, a private individual and ordinary citizen, voluntarily accepted the role of fighting sex offenders on the Internet. He pretends to be a 12-year-old girl and waits in the chat rooms. He receives orders and calls from men. Some of the men commit sexual offenses with the “minor”. Dubitsky files a complaint with the Israel Police for every alleged offense recorded by him. In relation to some of the cases, the police opened an investigation. Over the course of several months, hundreds of complaints of this type were submitted to the police, investigations were opened and suspects were arrested. This article deals with the questions of whether such conduct is legal and whether the defendants in these cases have any claim of defense against this method of operation. This article was published by the State Attorney’s Office 
אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - detention cell at Ramat Gan station
אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - The Prosecutor's Office determines everything is legal
אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - The Prosecutor's Office determines everything is legal
אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - The Prosecutor's Office determines everything is legal
אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - The Prosecutor's Office determines everything is legal
אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - arrest record of a suspect who came to meet a child
אבי דוביצקי מתעד מעצר של חשוד
Avi Dubitzky documents the arrest of a suspect who came to meet a minor

A picture is worth a thousand words: pictures from the field

אבי דוביצקי
Avi Dubitzky - a suspect who is suddenly ashamed of his actions