There are a lot of terrifying things in Australia, including snakes, spiders, and Craig Jones. But if you’re trying to creep on kids, your greatest fear should be the “Adelaide Pedo Hunter.” This man, who prefers to remain anonymous for safety reasons and will be referred to as “Tom”, is basically what would happen if Chris Hansen were scarier, had a cooler accent, and did jiu-jitsu.
Tom started training BJJ five years ago, and although he’s never been belted due to the fact that he trains at an MMA gym, there’s no doubt he knows his stuff. He considers himself “too old to be competitive”, but does coach kids and teach beginner classes. Even though you’re unlikely to see him in the competition scene, though, the knowledge that Tom has gained through martial arts is still being put to good use. As a child, he was abused by a pedophile, and now that he’s older, he’s doing his part to protect other kids from sexual abuse. “The Adelaide Pedo Hunter thing began as I had seen anti-pedo groups in several countries doing exactly what I’m doing,” he says. “There are way too many predators online, and unfortunately [when I create] a dummy profile as a 12- to 14-year-old boy, they contact me constantly. I simply make it clear to each person I talk to that my age is 12-14 years old and give them the chance to either finish the conversation or continue. If they continue with explicit content, then that (in South Australian law) is an offense called ‘grooming.’ Once they continue the conversation and arrange a meeting, I get to the meeting spot early and record my confrontation with them and call the police.”
Although there’s certainly a satisfying sense of justice viewers get out of watching Tom’s confrontation videos (which can be found on his YouTube channel “Adelaide Pedo Hunter”), his decision to record the interactions serves a greater purpose. “I video everything for my protection and also the pedophile’s protection. This way the pedo cannot say that I have acted violently or used unnecessary force,” he explains. “Allowing the police to charge them is one thing, but I also believe the community should have the right to know about the person and offense involved also and encourage people to name and shame the offender.”
Local law enforcement officials are divided on whether or not what Tom is doing is a good idea. “[Some of them] shake my hand and congratulate or thank me for doing what I am doing,” he says. But others caution him against taking the law into his own hands, lest he risk his own safety. So far, though, Tom hasn’t had any particularly dangerous encounters. “Thankfully so far I have felt completely safe in every confrontation,” he says. “My martial arts background has helped me immeasurably making me feel safer to do what I do. I certainly wouldn’t have the confidence in my abilities to look after myself in these situations had I not been trained to defend myself.”
Legally, Tom isn’t doing anything wrong. His encounters are considered citizen’s arrests, and he only responsibilities he takes on are gathering evidence for the police and keeping the predators in one place so they can be arrested. But he still receives criticism from some people who call him a “vigilante”: a term he believes doesn’t fit his role. “A vigilante is someone who wants to mete out their own form of justice — whether that be violence or whatever. I am not a ‘vigilante’ in that I simply expose these vile offenders on camera and allow the police to enforce the law,” he says.
While not everyone believes that Tom is doing the right thing, many people see him as a hero. “The community support and encouragement has been absolutely overwhelming and humbling,” he says. The videos on his YouTube channel have amassed thousands of views, and most importantly, his work has made Adelaide safer for children — last week alone, he busted a 61-year-old and a 28-year-old. Both men were charged, and one admitted guilt on camera.
It’s important to note that Tom knows what he’s doing: He knows his local laws, he communicates with law enforcement, and he understands that although he knows how to protect himself, he puts himself at great personal risk every time he confronts a predator. He’s done significant research and isn’t just running in haphazardly in hopes of being a hero. Basically, as satisfying as it is to watch him take down creeps, we’re not encouraging you to do the same. But it sure is nice to see someone taking a stand against child predators, and Tom isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. “I will continue doing what I am doing for the sake of the community and to expose how big a problem that we are really dealing with in this state,” he says.
To see more of the Adelaide Pedo Hunter’s work for yourself, check out his YouTube channel (be advised that the conversations that take place might be disturbing to some viewers).