01 - Neighborhood Crime Alert

Questionable Smartphone/Ipod Apps – The Lacey Township Police Department recently received information concerning Smartphone/Ipod Applications (APP’s) that may be inappropriate for children. The APP’s appear to be marketed to children/young users and contain an allegedly interactive, animated animal on the main screen. However, users have reported that the “interactive cartoon animal” has been prompting young children for personal information and has been responding verbally to users with inappropriate and offensive comments. These APP’s may also have the ability to engage the devices wireless capabilities including the camera feature to obtain involuntary photographs of users. All of this may be occurring without the knowledge of the user(s).

The Lacey Township Police Department is continuing to investigate this matter. Parents are urged to exercise extreme caution in allowing young children to access APP’s, websites, chat rooms, or other forums while unsupervised. Even applications that appear to be harmless or intended for children have the potential for misuse; therefore, the use of cell phone applications by children should be thoroughly explored and supervised by parents. Parents should also remain vigilant in discussing with their children the importance of not sharing personal information, names, photos, etc., via the Internet or other wireless devices.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Computer Crimes Unit, has been notified of the concern.