Crime cases against children spike; parents react

CREATED Jul 30, 2011

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Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - It's a parents worst nightmare, the idea that someone could take their child in broad daylight.  It happened twice in the past week. 

Police arrested 27-year-old Jeffrey Albert in the Tucson Mall parking lot Wednesday, charging him with molestation and luring a minor.  Christian Mercado-Valez was also arrested for similar charges Thursday, for touching children in Midtown grocery stores.

Even a teacher, 44-year-old Joseph Chaneck was locked up last week for child pornography.  They're just some of the reasons parents like Eric Houston keep a close eye on their kids in public.

"It's definitely something that terrifies me and my wife so the boys never get out of our sight that's for sure," he said. 

Houston makes sure his two-year-old and five-year-old hold hands in public places and use the buddy system.

Ruth Carrillo, a mother of 6-year-old twins, says she knows how it feels to lose track of a child.

"When my daughter was two I lost her at the Tucson mall for about 15 minutes so that was pretty scary," she said, "Just pure panic that's all I can say."

Now, she has a system to keep an eye on both at the same time.

"Have them have their hands on the cart," she said.

Police also have some tips for protecting children in public, including:

- Make sure kids know their names, address and phone numbers
- Use the buddy system
- Trust instincts.  If anything feels unsafe, get help.