Two Horsham men have been arrested on suspicion of attempting to meet with children under-16 following alleged grooming on social media dating sites.
Sussex Police said six separate reports had been received last month claiming men had engaged in online conversation with contacts they believed to girls or boys under-16, before arranging to meet.
In three of the cases three men have been arrested on suspicion of attempting to meet children under-16 following grooming.
Police said a 40-year-old and a 53-year-old from Horsham and a 49-year-old from Peacehaven have been bailed until May 24, March 28 and June 11 respectively while enquiries continue.
Two of the arrests took place in Burgess Hill, and the third took place in Crawley.
A 35-year-old man from Horsham has also been arrested on suspicion of robbery and attempted blackmail in connection with two of the other cases, officers added.
He has been bailed until March 27 while enquiries continue.
Sussex Police spokesman said no other arrests had been made in those cases and a sixth case is still under investigation.
No children were involved in any of the cases, the spokesman added.
Detective Inspector Rachel Carr said; “Each case is under active investigation, but we remind everyone of the dangers for them, and for others, of seeking to meet online for sexual activity with under age children. You are vulnerable to arrest and to prosecution, as any attempts to abuse children are taken very seriously by investigators and by the courts.
“At the same time it is also important to say that we do not encourage members of the public to carry out investigations themselves, especially in such a sensitive type of case. They could jeopardise evidence, hinder chances of prosecution, or risk harm to themselves. Such matters should be reported to the police at the outset.
“Anyone else who has information about such activity is asked to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Operation Abbotstone. You can also report online to https://sussex.police.uk/contact-us/response-to-appeal/ or call 101.
“Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org).”
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage
2) Like our Facebook page
3) Follow us on Twitter
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
Always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.