ROCKFORD - It's not what most people expect to find when heading to a forest preserve, but some men have been using these areas across
"Individuals looking for sex, would meet in particular locations," said Winnebago County Deputy Sheriff Dominic Iasparro.
After receiving complaints that people and families using local forest preserves have been getting approached by men, asking for sexual favors, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department conducted a two week undercover operation in four local preserves.
When they were done, 13 men were arrested ranging between 34 and 78 years old.
"It's an activity that takes place in every city, throughout the country," said Iasparro. "In parks, and forest preserves, and rural areas."
Iasparro says the men were aggressively asking for sexual favors. He also added this isn't the first time his department has conducted undercover investigations at these forest preserves.
The arrests have officials encouraging the public to be alert.
"Whenever anyone's outside, you need to keep your wits about you, keep your cell phone with you," said Winnebago County Forest Preserve Director of Marketing and Community Relations Jamie Johannsen.
Johannsen also says people should continue to report suspicious behavior.
"Send the message and keep the preserves comfortable and safe for everyone," said Johannsen.
Iasparro says the men involved would typically cruse the park, and appear to be out of place.
While the sexual acts appear to be consensual, Iasparro says that won't stop police from continuing to make sure this activity doesn't happen in forest preserves.
"Anyone that may have a thought that they would go to a forest preserve for these types of activities should think twice, because the person they may be approaching may be a police officer," said Iasparro.
12 of the 13 people arrested