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Published on May 11, 2024
Hesperia Man Charged After Undercover Sting Unmasks Attempt to Solicit Minor in San BernardinoSource: SBSD - Headquarters

In a sting that reads like something off a television crime drama, a Hesperia man was snagged by San Bernardino County authorities for attempting to arrange sexual acts with a minor—who turned out to be an undercover sheriff's detective. Thomas Patrick Hannett, 65, thought he was speaking to a 14-year-old girl but was instead drawn into a trap set by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department's savvy operatives.

The operation, which took place on April 18, was a meticulously planned affair designed to quickly apprehend individuals willing to sexually exploit children. Hannett, using the username "Nighthawk_760", eagerly took the bait and swiftly moved to be in contact with what he perceived to be a young girl. In his misstep, Hannett became ensnared, law enforcement close behind him to ensure he'd never actually reach to permanently scar what he believed was a young life.

Hannett was arrested on Thursday, May 9, after efforts by the Crimes Against Children Detail and the Specialized Enforcement Division. According to a press release by the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department, the suspect now faces several charges, including lewd acts with a minor, contacting a minor for a lewd purpose, and arranging to meet a minor for the purpose of committing a sex crime. Hannett is currently being held at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, with bail set at $500,000.

Detectives are digging deeper, believing Hannett's arrest might only be the tip of an iceberg of misconduct. They are currently seeking to identify additional victims in the case and have released Hannett's photograph to aid the public in coming forward with further information. Individuals with knowledge relating to this case are encouraged, even urged, to step forward and contact Detective Wendy Winegar of the Crimes Against Children Detail. The Sheriff's Department assures that callers desiring to remain anonymous have the option to do so by reaching out to the We-Tip Hotline or by leaving information on their website.

As the investigation continues, the community is left to grapple with the darkness of such crimes, and the reminder that the internet can sometimes serve as a conduit for those who prey on the innocent. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials remain vigilant, committed to posing as guardians in the digital realm in hopes to catch potential offenders before they can act on their intentions.