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'She waved at me,' and other excuses

by Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent

Since we started our "To Catch A Predator" investigations almost two and a half years ago, I have confronted more than 200 men who had sexually explicit online chats with decoys posing as young teens before showing up for a date at one of our hidden camera houses.

Many of the men ultimately admit their intentions and sometimes go into great detail about their online addictions and compulsions that led them to our door.

But every once in a while, I run into someone who comes up with what he thinks is a plausible story-- an "innocent excuse" if you will -- for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such is the case with the first man you'll meet tonight. He's a 32-year-old successful real estate executive who was chatting online with a decoy posing as a 13-year-old girl. As you'll see, he's a pretty confident guy when he walks into our house. When I start to ask him questions, he says he was in our area checking on some property he owned and had pulled off the road near our house to get a good view of the space shuttle blasting off. In fact, we'd been treated to the same inspiring sight just a short while earlier.

Click the photo for a video preview of the exchange.

Then he tells me he just happened to see our decoy in the driveway, assumed our house was for sale, and figured he'd stop in to check it out. Unfortunately for him that doesn't explain his sexually explicit chat or the naked photos he sent. While there's no face in the pictures to match the man standing in our living room, there's a distinctive piece of jewelry that matches exactly the one he's wearing. That's where his crafty story starts to unravel.

During our investigation in Flagler beach, we're not only prepared for excuses, we're also ready for men who may want to meet at a location besides our house. It presents a technical challenge, but as you'll see, it's one that pays off.

The first part of the Flagler Beach episode airs Tuesday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m.