(KFSM) — A man who served 22 years for child sex crimes in Washington County was arrested for trying to lure young girls into his van with cookies at a park in California.
Ronald Thomas, 61, was arrested Tuesday (Feb. 19) around 5:00 p.m. after he reportedly whistled at a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old from a van across from Veterans Park in Porterville, California near a helicopter monument.
He was found with two chocolate chip cookies on the windshield of his van, accessible only from the outside of the vehicle. Police say he intended to entice the girls with the cookies.
Thomas failed to register as a sex offender in California.
Thomas was charged with annoying or molesting a child, failure to change registration address and failure to notify of transient status.
Investigators say his criminal history in Arkansas and his actions at the park in California make his case extremely alarming.
"Something that really jumped out at us as odd, to be quite honest very scary, was there were two cookies that he specifically placed on the outside of the windshield of his van that would have been between himself and these girls at the time, and we believe those were used to try and entice them or lure them over," Sgt. Rick Carrillo with the Porterville Police Department said.
Investigators say the courage of the 13-year-old girl to contact police might have saved another child from falling victim to Thomas.
"More so if you're lucky enough to find his history there in Arkansas you would be more so creeped out because it’s scary... it is... no doubt these girls saved someone from falling victim to him because it was scary," Carrillo said.
In 1996 Thomas was arrested and sentenced for rape, first-degree abuse and sexual solicitation of a child. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He was also convicted in Arkansas of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14-years-old.
Investigators say Thomas' previous criminal history in Arkansas will enhance his sentencing.