Nov. 2, 2006 — -- For the first time, an aggressive police force has witnessed a pedophile in action on the Internet and then proceeded to catch the alleged culprit within a few hours of the attack.
Detective Paul Krawczyk of the Toronto Child Exploitation Section went undercover Sunday night, chatting with a suspected child pornographer when he noticed the suspicious behavior.
The man began sending Krawczyk live pictures as he molested a preschool-aged girl.
"To see this child and look in that child's eyes and realize that that child was live somewhere and that we had a possibility to save her … it's difficult to describe," he said.
Despite his four yeas with the unit, he said he was not prepared for that moment.
"You think you've seen everything, and you think you can deal with everything. … At that moment, what I recall is my heart racing out of control, sweating and thinking I was going to throw up," he said.
He immediately went to work on the case, and in just two hours, Canadian police arrested the suspect at his home in St. Thomas, outside Toronto.
"Live" child sex abuse has become increasingly popular in the online pedophile community. According to current and former law enforcement officials, the only way to catch them is to go undercover.
"I don't know how the agents do this work for very long without burning out. I think it's really got to take its toll on them," said former FBI agent Michael Vadis.
The Toronto Child Exploitation Section has been on the vanguard of busting Internet pedophiles. The group broke up an international child porn ring in March and has received a $4.5 million grant from Microsoft to create a global database to track child porn traffickers.
Authorities will not reveal exactly what they did to catch the suspect Sunday, but Krawczyk said that when anyone goes online they leave digital fingerprints that can be traced.
"If you're a pedophile and you're online, you might as well shut off the computer," Krawczyk told ABC News. "Why don't you turn yourself in? Because we are going to find you."