Update: 7/13/2023 6:47 pm
A group called CC Unit (Creep Catchers Unit) performed a sting operation on an alleged pedophile by posing as a 14-year-old minor on a decoy social media account. Officers were met on Sunday, July 9th, 2023, at approximately 8:09 pm, at the 200 block of East Orangethorpe Ave, by a large group demanding that the suspect, John Wheeler, be arrested immediately.
Initial investigation by Fullerton Police Officers indicated that the group had used the messaging app to pose as a 14-year-old minor because they suspected Wheeler was a pedophile. They accused Wheeler of setting a meeting with a minor later that day to conduct sexual acts. While the group who had solicited the suspect provided some of this information to officers at the scene, based on established laws in California, officers did not have sufficient evidence to make an arrest.
As officers attempted to investigate the allegations on-scene, the crowd became impatient and uncooperative with officers, creating an unsafe environment for everyone present. Because of the group’s hostile actions towards the Officers on the scene and to ensure the safety of all involved, Officers elected to conduct further investigation at the Fullerton Police Department.
Fullerton Police Department Detectives, after being notified of the incident, immediately began investigating the allegations. They also sought and obtained multiple search warrants for Wheeler’s electronic devices.
Fullerton Police Detectives arrested John Wheeler on Wednesday, July 12th, at approximately 12:34 pm, for allegedly intending to have sex with a minor and for sending harmful matters to seduce a minor. Wheeler was transported to the Fullerton City Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Understandably, emotions run high when dealing with anything involving the abuse of children. Because of the intricacies of an investigation started by a group of concerned citizens independent of law enforcement, officers must open an investigation and start at the beginning. Detectives must corroborate all allegations and collect all evidence associated with the allegations independently for a successful prosecution. The Police Department stated, “Partnering with law enforcement at the onset of these incidents is always the best practice and the most effective way to protect innocent lives.”
Detectives say there may be potential victims from other crimes that John Wheeler may have committed who have yet to come forward. Anyone with further information, or anyone who may have been a victim of Wheeler, is encouraged to contact Fullerton Police Detective Nicole Kaprielian at (714) 738-6763. Those wishing to provide information anonymously can call the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1(855) TIP-OCCS or visit their website at https://occrimestoppers.org/.