HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The FBI partnered with their local chapter of Infragard to offer a summer camp for kids. The middle schoolers who participated got a pretty unique first hand look at how the FBI solves crimes.
The kids started the day with an exercise, specifically a fake kidnapping. FBI Special Agent Todd Berryman describes the scenario, "We had a victim that was taken from her residence. She's about 14 years old. She was removed from her residence. She was taken to a place that we didn't know, but her mom reported that she was missing."
FBI agents guided the kids through the hunt for evidence. Berryman elaborates, "We interviewed her mother and found that there were multiple devices that she had on her person, her daughter had, that were still remaining at the location. As well as a laptop that was suspiciously located there at the scene of the crime in the victim's bedroom."
The story the campers pieced together goes like this -- the victim made a friend online. She told him where she lived. She told him when her parents wouldn't there.
At the end of the day, the kids figure it out and wander outside for a picture.
Then they spoted him. The man they identified as the kidnapper. Sirens wailed and a black car blocked in the man's SUV. FBI agents jumped out of their car and staged an arrest.
In the act of working through that case, the FBI hopes they planted a seed with the campers to use their tech prowess in law enforcement.
But there are day-to-day lessons for the kids built in.
Dynetics offered their building for the camp. Their director of cybersecurity, Shane Hammett, says they want "to teach students general awareness on the safeties of the internet, proper usage, and what things you should not be sharing."
Infragard Huntsville's chapter president, Chris Karlson, adds, "What they say and what they post online is very important, and it can be used against them, like what we saw in the case today."
Straight from the experts, there's advice for parents too.
Karlson implores, "Communicate with your children. Let them know that they have to be careful what they put online. Not everybody out there is going to be their friend."
Berryman agrees, "Communicate."
"I think that's key. We should be talking to our kids. We should have an open dialogue about what they're doing online and to know what's going on online with their kid."