Two recent Florida laws prevent some sex offenders from participating in Halloween, but most offenders can legally welcome kids to their door.
www.wtsp.com – TAMPA, Fla. — Halloween is the time of kids in costumes, candy, and criminals?
“If you run your address at any time, you’re going to find at least 3 sexual offenders or predators in your area,” says Detective Kat Poynter with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s sex offender unit.
Poynter gets concerned this time of year with kids taking to the street for trick-or-treating, especially with the complications from two recent changes to Florida law.
The statutes prevent sex offenders who require law enforcement supervision from participating in Halloween. However, that’s only a fraction of the total sex offender registry. Roughly 3 out of 4 offenders can legally welcome trick-or-treaters to their door.
“I had no idea. No, I didn’t know that,” says Robert Erdos, the father of a 3-year-old excited about Halloween. “That’s actually quite shocking and pretty appalling.”
“So I would suggest you as a parent sit down, check out the website, look it over real good, and know who your neighbors are,” adds Detective Poynter, and sex offender or not, deputies remind kids and parents that it’s not just about the treats.
“They get tricked into coming in [to someone's house]. ‘Oh, my candy is in the kitchen. Oh, grandpa would love to see your outfit. They look so cute. Can you just step in for a moment?’” warns Detective Poynter. “That could be the last time you ever see your kid.”
As of Thursday evening, more than 4,300 sex offenders across the Bay Area can legally participate in Halloween. Here’s the breakdown of offenders who fall into the loophole by county:
- Hillsborough: 1,116
- Pinellas: 1,113
- Polk: 668
- Pasco: 590
- Sarasota: 315
- Manatee: 268
- Hernando: 254
To find sex offenders near your home, visit: http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/Search.jsp