CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA ) — What started several months ago with a few convicted sex offenders living in a wooded near homes and businesses has grown, and now is drawing the attention of a state lawmaker after inquiries from 8 On Your Side.
About a dozen sex offenders live in the grove off Brian Dairy Road that according to Pinellas County land records, is located on property owned by the Department of Transportation.
Residents and business owners near the area said they had no idea who lived there and the state sex offender registry does not include accurate information for the camp residents.
The men who agreed to talk on camera asked to hide their identities to avoid retribution from the state employees they claim sent them there.
“They actually brought me out here,” one of them said. “No one would know we’re here.”
The offenders are monitored with electronic ankle devices. They bought a generator and a solar-powered battery to charge the monitors and avoid violating the terms of their probation.
Department of Corrections spokesman Paul Walker said FDC does not tell convicts where to live, but several camp residents stated otherwise.
The camp is located in the district served by State Representative Lindsay Cross, who said the lack of warning to the public concerns her.
“I think it’s very irresponsible to direct people to an open area and not alert the residents of that community,” Cross said.
8 On Your Side will have more details on this developing story Thursday night.