Halloween safety: Finding sex offenders in your neighborhood

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With just days until Halloween, parents and children are preparing their yearly tradition of going door-to-door to collect candy, but there’s a way to find out which houses and neighborhoods to avoid.

Florida law requires sexual predators and sex offenders to register their address to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and while they’re encouraged to not decorate their home for Halloween, parents can stay informed by searching the FDLE website on where sex offenders and predators live.

Parents were able to find out where sex offenders lived in relation to their own neighborhoods using the Florida Department of Law Enforcement registry website.

You can check your neighborhood at this link, using this tutorial.

Locally, Hillsborough County, which is also the most populated in the Tampa Bay area, has 2,000 sex offenders living there. Pinellas and Polk County aren’t far behind, with 1,794 and 1,271 sex offender residents, respectively.

Hardee County had the fewest sex offenders, with only 53 registered with the state.

Around 60 percent of convicted sex offenders on the state’s registry live out of state, are in prison, or have been deported, an increase of up 43 percent since the registry began in 2006.

Florida has the tenth-highest number of sex offenders in the country, with an estimated 356 per 100,000 people and the overall number of people on the state’s sex offender registry— totaling around 73,000— has grown by more than 53 percent since 2005.

Here are some additional ways to ensure a safe Halloween:

  • Make sure children are not trick or treating alone. They should go with a group or with a trusted adult;
  • Remind trick or treaters about road safety— look both ways before crossing the street and use the side walk and crosswalks when possible;
  • Equip children with a light source such as a flashlight or glow stick; and
  • Tell children to never go into the home of a stranger and do not approach a house without any lights on.

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