Kane Co. sees increase in child exploitation, vehicle theft

Crime trends in Kane County show that child sexual exploitation and stolen vehicles are on the rise, and lawmakers expect revisions to the controversial SAFE-T Act, according to experts who took part in a panel discussion last week.

State Sens. Don DeWitte and Linda Holmes joined Assistant Kane County State’s Attorney Robert Dore, Kane County Undersheriff Amy Johnson and retired Naperville police detective Rich Wistocki, at the event hosted by Safe Suburbs USA in Geneva.

Dore, who had 13 years of experience prosecuting internet crimes against children in DuPage and Kendall counties, joined the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2021 to assist in those prosecutions.

From Jan. 1 to May 30, 2021, some 48,000 identifiable videos of children in sexually explicit content were downloaded through five local internet providers in Kane County.

Which jurisdiction downloaded the most?

“I’m scared to tell you,” Dore said. “St. Charles. No. 1. These are people with wherewithal, with computers, they have a lot of means.”

State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser created a Child Exploitation Unit and hired Wistocki as a special investigator.

“We’ve executed search warrants. We’ve made some incredible arrests, based on these investigations,” Dore said. “That’s the trend. We are going after people who are going after children.”

Retired Wheaton detective Andrew Uhlir and Zeus Florez, a computer forensics expert formerly with the Illinois attorney general’s office, also are part of the Child Exploitation Unit, Wistocki said.

“Training in schools is the next piece that Jamie wants to bring,” Wistocki said. “It’s not only really important that we catch the bad guys. But in Kane County, we have to start teaching in the schools to show our children how not to be victims. And make parents more responsible for their children.”

Vehicle thefts, smash-and-grabs

Johnson said the county is experiencing more vehicle thefts, especially of Kias and Hyundais.

Holmes said one of the problems with vehicle theft and retail theft smash-and-grabs, is there is an upper echelon of a crime ring in charge of it.

“They find a 15-year-old kid to do it,” Holmes said. “Because they are not going to be prosecuted the same way an adult is. And somehow, we have to make sure we have enough information to go back for the people who are causing it. And try to come up with ways of making sure that kids aren’t in such a situation that they can be easily persuaded to go into this.”


The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act ended cash bail in Illinois. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality last year. Defendants can be held or released pretrial depending on other factors, but not their ability to post bond, according to the state law.

Both DeWitte, a Republican from St. Charles. and Holmes, an Aurora Democrat, voted against the SAFE-T Act.

“It just went into effect nine months ago. So, I think it’s a little to early to determine what has been the effect of no-cash bail,” DeWitte said.

Holmes said she expects more changes to the SAFE-T Act.

“There always are in any piece of legislation that is that big,” Holmes said.

The state’s attorney’s office created a Detention Hearing Unit to handle these cases.

“It’s been a struggle, but we’ve adapted,” Dore said.

DeWitte said that Democrats and Republicans work together on these issues.

“Crime is not a bipartisan issue,” DeWitte said. “Crime affects every human being in the state of Illinois. There are more issues that we agree on that bind us than there are issues that drive us apart. And I think if we can continue on that path … and concentrate on the things we agree on, we will all move the ball forward together and I think that’s the bottom line.”

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