Sexual Predators and Halloween Don't Mix - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/30/07

Sexual Predators and Halloween Don't Mix

Tomorrow is Halloween, and for parents, keeping their children safe is the top priority. One concern many parents have are sex offenders. Do you know where they live in your area?

Beth Burke does. She has three grandsons who live with her. When they are outside playing, she's outside watching them.

Burke agrees that sex offenders and Halloween are a bad combination. "We live in a neighborhood where we do have some, they've never messed with us or anything like that," she said. "We are very, very cautious of our kids and strict. We don't allow our kids to go out of the yard."

When the boys go door to door on Halloween, she wants to make sure a sex offender isn't on the other side of that door.

"I want them protected," said Burke.

That's what probation officer Tom Cribbs and Effingham County Sheriff's Department investigator Faye Bly want, too.

This year they are requiring all sex offenders who live Effingham County to attend a meeting at the sheriff's department on Halloween night.

Officer Cribbs said, "I'm passing along information to them, advising them of new regulations being passed and also I'm able to keep them off the street during high-risk hours."

Like when kids are out collecting candy.

Almost every county in the Coastal Empire and Low Country is doing something to keep track of sex offenders. Some have early curfews, others forbid sex offenders from putting up decorations or handing out candy.

While law enforcement officers are doing their part this Halloween, they say there are things parents can do in their own homes to keep their kids safe.

State and national sex offender registries are just a mouse click away:

Georgia
South Carolina
USA

Parents can even print out a list of all the sex offenders who live in their neighborhood or town.

Education and enforcement, it's all to keep our keep our children safe.

It gives Beth Burke some piece of mind. "With Effingham County doing something like this, it's great," she said. "They should have done it a long time ago."

Here's what other counties in Georgia are doing:

Chatham County--Sex offenders have a 6pm to 6am curfew. They are not allowed to decorate their homes, turn on their porch lights or answer the door if trick-or-treaters come knocking. Probation officers will make random house checks on high-risk offenders.

Bryan County--Sex offenders are not allowed to decorate their homes, turn on their porch lights or answer the door for children who are trick-or-treating. Probation officers will go do to do to every sex offenders home to make sure they are obeying the law.

Bulloch County--Mandatory meeting Halloween night for sex offenders at the old Statesboro Municipal Courtroom.

Jenkins County--Mandatory meeting Halloween night for sex offenders at the Jenkins County Sheriff's Department.

Screven County--Since trick-or-treating is on Tuesday night in Screven County, there's a mandatory meeting Tuesday night for sex offenders.

Tattnall County--Trick-or-treating is on Tuesday night. Sex offenders are not allowed to decorate their homes, turn on their porch lights or answer the door for children who are trick-or-treating. Probation officers will go to sex offenders' homes to make sure they are obeying the law.

South Carolina--It's mandatory throughout the state that registered sex offenders not participate in Halloween. The South Carolina Office of Probation, Parole and Pardons will make sure they are obeying the law.

"We check on every sex offender, we'll do home visits or drive-bys, make sure they're complying with their lights, off or we'll do land line phone checks to make sure they are home," said probation officer Jesse Rosier.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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