Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber crimes stretch police

Date: March 03, 2008

It represents a small percentage of reported crime in Bethlehem Township, Pa., now.

But police Chief Daniel Pancoast said cyber crimes are on the rise, and within five years, municipal police departments like his will have to explore adding computer crime units to their arsenal.

"Such issues are threatening e-mails, identity thefts, sexual predators; we certainly could have an officer devoted to such crimes," the chief said.

In the not-too-distant future, police officers will need more than a working knowledge of computers, Pancoast and other police officials said.

During a recent advisory board meeting at Northampton Community College, he encouraged students in the criminal justice program to take computer classes to help market themselves as cyber sleuths.

The need is growing

But police officials across the region say a major hurdle stands between cyber crime units and your local police department: a lack of manpower.

Colonial Regional police Chief Roy Seiple said he doesn't have enough staff to deploy a full-time position targeting suspected online predators like the two Lehigh Valley men accused last week.

Michael Schatzabel, 58, of the 3000 block of Oregon Street in Palmer Township, and John Sell, 45, of the 2200 block of South Ellsworth Street in Salisbury Township, were jailed after authorities said they engaged in sexually explicit online activity with an undercover agent from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Child Predator Unit.

Schatzabel, a retired Northampton County prison guard, allegedly sent explicit webcam videos of himself to someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl he met in an online video game chat room. His contact was actually a state agent conversant in the Web.

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