Sex offender accused of trying to lure underage girls in Porterville, arrested

Crime
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A sex offender was arrested Tuesday after Porterville Police said he was in his white van attempting to lure underage girl’s with chocolate chip cookies.

Around 4:55 p.m., officers responded to a 911 call reporting a suspicious subject annoying juveniles near the helicopter at Veteran’s Park.

The 13 and 15-year-old girls identified the white van where the suspect was seated, police said.

Ronald Gene Thomas was contacted in the van, and it was reported that he had been whistling and making efforts to lure or contact multiple underage females in the area, the Police Department said.

He was found to have two chocolate chip cookies on the windshield of his van, accessible only from the outside of the vehicle, police said.

Further investigation revealed that Thomas is required to register as a sex offender from an Arkansas conviction of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years of age, police said.

He was arrested and booked into the custody of the Tulare County Sheriff on charges of annoying or molesting a child, failure to change registration address, and failure to notify of transient status.

Thomas is registered as a sex offender with the Porterville Police Department, but he failed to update his status to transient, which is a violation of the registration requirement, police said.

In Arkansas, he was found guilty on two counts of rape, two counts of sexual indecency with a child, and one count of sexual abuse.

Anyone who has had questionable contact with Thomas should contact Detective Orlando Ortiz at 559-782-7400.

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