A man accused of impersonating a Sioux City police officer for more than a year has been arrested, following months of investigation.
Authorities said 29-year-old Joey Miguel Alberts used the cover to try and lure young girls, even inappropriately touching some of them.
That's got parents and law enforcement very concerned.
Siouxland News Reporter Beairshelle Edmé gathered some tips from officials on how to help keep your kids from falling prey to this type of predator.
Starting back in November 2012, police said Alberts patrolled the downtown area targeting young girls between the ages of 11 to 13 as a fake officer.
Now, a year and half later that case closed Monday afternoon with his arrest.
He's now charged with 3 counts of impersonating an officer, 3 counts of enticing a child and 2 counts of indecent contact with a child, after inappropriately patting down several girls.
The recent arrest is prompting officials to encourage parents to teach their children not to speak with strangers and to always ask for an officer in uniform when approached by someone unfamiliar.
"I always tell em. We talk about 'Stranger Danger' and if they're in an area that they don't know anybody to go to the next building to the closest building in," said Riverside Elementary parent Jennifer Welch when asked what she tells her kids to keep them safe.
"Um scarred. Like that's not cool at all but um I--I'm one of those firm believers that if I get pulled over, I'm asking the cop for his ID because it's easy to go to a uniform store and pick up a Sioux City Police Department and a badge and all that good stuff and so I try and tell them ask for ID, make sure that's who they say they are," said parent Steven Beardshear.
The Sioux City Community School District is also keeping its guard up to protect its students, especially elementary-aged children.
"We-- we practice stranger danger in school so whenever some event occurs that we have any concern about we always air on the side of student safety and so we then educate students about the best practices when they see a stranger what to do," said Brian Burnight, director of elementary education with the district.
The school district also has a traffic safety committee to review traffic flow patterns and determine the safest areas for kids.
For now, the district said it's confident that its 14,000 students are in a safe place and have the tools to avoid dangerous strangers.
Police are also reminding the public that Sioux City Police Officers are not authorized to touch a female's chest or groin area.
If anyone believes their child may have been a victim of this impersonator, please call the Department at 712-279-6440 or Crime Stoppers at 712-258-TIPS (8477).If you have a story you want to tell or an incident you think needs to be investigated, our reporter Beairshelle Edmé wants to hear about it.BEdme@siouxlandnews.comfacebook.com/beairshelle.edme OR twitter.com/BeairshelleKMEG