(CNN) – A group of teenagers told police they tried to catch a man they believed was preying on girls in Vista, California. Instead one of them was kidnapped.
The teens said they used a social media application to contact a man who they believed was looking for underage girls for sex. The teens arranged a meeting with him at a shopping center Sunday in an attempt to bring him to the attention of law enforcement, a statement from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.
The group reported that they had made contact with Robert Dreyfus, 32, and agreed to meet him in a parking lot on East Vista Way in Vista, California, about 40 miles north of San Diego.
When they met, Dreyfus asked one member of the group, a 17-year-old girl, to get in his car to talk. When she did, he drove away without her consent and continued driving for several miles, the sheriff department’s statement said.
The teen texted the group for help and they called law enforcement, the statement said.
Deputies contacted Dreyfus on his cell phone and he pulled over. The victim fled the vehicle and was rescued unharmed. Dreyfus was arrested.
Dreyfus was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of kidnapping, sending harmful matter to a minor, and communication with a minor for specific offenses, according to the statement.
Dreyfus was released on $175,000 bail and is expected to appear in court on October 15.
The sheriff’s department said it strongly discourages the public from setting up sting operations to try to catch people in committing crimes.
“These types of situations can be extremely dangerous and should be handled by your local law enforcement agency,” the department said in its statement.