AUSTIN (KXAN) - It's a problem that has been going on for years: lewd and indecent acts at Austin's public parks.
Now, the Austin Police Department is stepping up its patrols and doing undercover sting operations to catch these criminals.
Walnut Creek Park in North Austin seems like the perfect place to go for a jog or take the kids for a day on the playground, but it's also a place where sexual and lewd acts happen.
Police said they get several complaints a week from people shocked at what they see happening during the day.
"Their complaints are that their 7-year-old son just came back from the bathroom and saw two men naked and kissing inside and hugging each other," said Lt. Todd Smith. "They're just very inappropriate things our kids and families shouldn't be exposed to."
Walnut Creek Park and Bull Creek Park top the list of parks around town where these acts happen, but police said it can really happen anywhere.
Authorities perform undercover sting operations to catch the criminals committing these acts and they never leave empty handed -- they make at least one arrest during every sting.
On Friday, police charged Yong Chong, 42, and Charles Hilz, 63, with indecent exposure and lewdness.
"They're in restrooms, which are public," said Smith. "Children and families have access to all the trails and these restrooms, we have to do something to address it."
Police is also stepping up its park patrols and performing online stings where officers patrol popular websites where the criminals usually go to meet up.
Parents can't imagine these indecent acts happening at the park where they bring their children.
"I would be really shocked if I ever actually encounter that," said Ann Pinder, a mother who visits Austin's parks with her daughter frequently. "It doesn't seem like something that would happen in the middle of the day."
Authorities said these acts happen at all times of the day and night, despite the parks closing at 10 p.m. While the sting operations are productive, the problem will continue to exist.
"Other than putting up cameras in every park and bathroom, which is a privacy issue. Just about the only way we can do it is hope that people will police themselves," said Smith. "We hope the citizens and neighbors will be vigilant and call us."
To report any indecent or lewd acts, call 311.
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